My caller I.D. displayed one of those, well, annoying calls. That periodic call I receive from the guy* that only makes contact when he wants something from me. Despite his public reputation as a Godly man and a community figure, he doesn’t call to see how I’m doing. He doesn’t check-in to ensure that my family is well, or to encourage me in my relationship with God and those around me. He is well aware of some recent family complications, not to mention our stressful lifestyle of children, jobs, graduate school, music, and more. But he doesn’t call about those things. He calls when he needs me to do something for him. I can’t recall a time in recent history when he called for any other reason than that, and that’s why I don’t typically answer the phone. Yes, I inevitably call back, but I usually have to prepare my head and heart for the conversation because one of these days, man, I’m afraid I’m just going to pop-off on the guy. I’m convinced it is because he is hyper-focused on his reputation as a visionary, and his need to cast that vision and execute his ideas. His agenda is a very narrow scope, and he becomes blind to the bigger picture. His agenda is the only one that matters, and when he decides that he wants something, he stops at nothing to get it. I’m unmotivated to “do” for this person because he’s never really taken the time to get to know me, nor am I convinced he genuinely cares for me. I’m just a guy who can get things done.
It occurred to me that God must feel the very same way. To be transparent, I don’t always pray the way God would have me pray. Jesus even gave us a blueprint in the Lord’s prayer:
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’” (Luke 11:1-4 NIV)
Jesus didn’t instruct us to pray to God when we need things. It essentially says to give Him glory, provide to us our essentials, forgive us for disobedience, and guide us in our lifestyle. Nowhere does it say to give God a list wants and needs, and to start our prayers with that laundry list. God wants more from his children. He wants us to revere Him and love Him. We cannot approach God exclusively in times of need. If we’re preoccupied with our aspirations, or we’ve dug ourselves into deep holes, then we’re treating God more as a genie than a Father. We need to pursue God as the most important relationship in our lives. When we come to Him with our burdens, as well as our hearts’ desires, it will be out of trust and a strong relationship, not out of greed or desperation. He loves us that much, therefore, we need to nurture the relationship in order to approach God with honest and open hearts.
*fictional person, inspired by various experiences and observations