Do you remember the first time you prayed out loud in a group of people? I sure do… And I was terrified. When I first became a Christian, prayer didn’t even seem to be worth my time. Who was I even talking to anyway? I felt silly and embarrassed, kind of like when you get caught talking to yourself out in a public setting, or singing while you use a public restroom (both of which I am SO guilty of doing). Prayer seemed to be something that was only necessary when I found myself in a bind or an awkward situation. But as I became closer and closer with God, I realized that my prayer life was essential to keep an open communication line between the Lord and I.
I began to pray more and spend more one-on-one time with Him. But when it came to praying in public, even in a group of two or three others, I got total stage fright. Part of me thinks I was embarrassed to be speaking aloud in front of others, and part of me was just shaking in my boots. But, as God always seems to do, He came through for me and I finally began to get over that fear. I began to enjoy praying, maybe even to the point where I would just begin to ramble on about totally irrelevant things.
I found myself starting to become prideful in prayer. I would pray for the person next to me, sometimes selfishly hoping that they would be like “Wow, she’s so selfless and great because she prayed for everything we just talked about”. I began trying to impress those around me with my words, instead of being genuinely loving and altruistic. I thought that I was being so grace giving and loving, but even when you think your heart is in the right place, often times you may be fooling yourself. As I sat in church one day, God called me out through the pastor, “Prayer is not about impressing the person next to you. It is about genuine thankfulness for God and His works”.
God really had called me out. It kind of dawned on me after that (like I haven’t been told this a thousand times before), that God knows when we are and aren’t being selfish and prideful in our prayers. He knows what we want, even before we bring them to Him. We can’t b.s. God, no matter how hard we try. It is so easy to do the right thing because we have the wrong motive. What is your motive?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that every prayer that has ever come out of my mouth has been for my own glory. I genuinely do have a heart for Jesus and His Glory, but like anything in this world, it is so easy to get caught up in.
As this week continues, I challenge everyone to join me in taking a good look inside your heart and really asking yourself “What your motives for prayer are. Are they to extend God’s Kingdom, or to extend your own kingdom?” For a long time, I’ve been selfishly trying to extend my own kingdom, trying to pass it off as God’s. I know I’m not alone in doing this; everyone is guilty of doing this at some point in his or her prayer life.
Whose kingdom do you pray for?