I pray that my husband becomes “godlier.” I pray that my daughters wouldn’t make the same mistakes I made. I pray that the words He wants me to speak in front of others might come out cohesively, with grace. I pray that Shelby would stop going poo poo in her pants throughout this battle that we call potty training.
These prayers, in and of themselves, are not bad prayers. But I must ask myself, what is my motive behind these prayers?
My dear reader, it ain’t pretty.
I am self-seeking. I am rotten. I see these things I want through the lens of my own foolish desires.
Let’s crack open the living pages of the Word of God and take a look at a passage that can really open our eyes about our motives behind prayer:
“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3
Why do I pray that my husband becomes godlier? Is it because I want him to be closer to God for his sake? No, though as I write this I am confessing my sin to God, asking for forgiveness since my motives are not of Him. No my friend, I have been praying he would be a godlier man for my sake.
Wouldn’t it be so great (for me) if he played basketball with the church on Tuesday night to fellowship with like-minded men? Went to the men’s Bible study and breakfast on Thursday? Led small group on Sunday? Led our family in devotions each night with dinner? Prayed over the family with me each night before bed? Wouldn’t that be so great for
I honestly feel as though things would be perfect with my marriage if the above were true, but I know that isn’t the case. This desire and prayer is filled with my own desire and therefore will never be quenched. I will always desire him to do more than he is doing. If led by my own wants, he will never be godly enough.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
He has put eternity in our hearts. This means we will always long for more than this world has to offer. Taking it one step further, I will personally always desire more than anyone here can give me. I will always be let down. However, the Lord has a plan.
Lord, I know you know my desires. They are before you everyday whether I bring them to you or not (Psalm 38:9). I will not simply pray for my own desires. I desire what You have planned for my husband. I want him to long to be closer to You because YOU have something planned for him that is beyond what I can comprehend. You know where he needs to be better than I. I cannot put Your plans in a box and if I could, I would only be missing out on all You have to offer. Please keep me from myself and my self-loving tendencies. I don’t want to miss Your beautiful plan.
Ok, now I just have to remember this plan. And I can. I have laid my own desires at the foot of the cross and He has taken that load off my back.
My prayers that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, as I said, are not bad prayers. It is the motives behind them that need to be confessed. And as James states, my prayers will remain unanswered when the motive behind them is my own selfish desire.
I do pray that my daughters would not make the same mistakes I made. But I can’t pray that prayer because I am trying to live vicariously through their lives. I can’t pray that prayer simply because I fear they will hurt like I have. But I can pray that prayer because I so desperately want them to have a heart like His. To long to be so close to their sweet Savior that the ways of this world have no room in their God-fearing lives. I can pray that prayer because the Lord has so much planned for them, and I want nothing to hinder that walk.
I do pray that the words He gives me come out smoothly and cohesively and with grace. But I can’t pray that because I want to become a big blogger, Bible study teacher and mentor who gets recognition for her abilities. I pray this because He has plans for me that I do not yet fully understand. I want to be a vessel. I want each word I speak to reach someone’s heart so they might strengthen their relationship with the Lord, or perhaps even come to the Lord if they do not know Him. I pray this prayer because I do not want to, by the grace of God, hinder anyone from a personal relationship with Him.
I do pray that Shelby would stop going poo poo in her pants. But I shouldn’t pray that simply because I want to stop cleaning it up (sigh, this is true). I pray this because I want her heart to want to obey. She knows what she is to do and simply does not “want” to. I pray she will grow a heart of obedience to me so that she can understand how to better serve God.
It isn’t our prayers that we need to work on. It is why we pray them.
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:3
Oh, Precious Lord, please do not let our prayers be so selfish. Keep us from ourselves. Set our eyes on You. An help us remember to bring our selfish desires to You and lay them before You so we can be blameless and focus on Your plan and not our own when we pray!