Prayer: Spiritual or Self-Serving?

Lord, please hear my prayer! Copyright 2008 by Blair Atherton

Lord, please hear my prayer!
Copyright 2008 by Blair Atherton

Prayer, for most of us, is the primary means by which we communicate with God. The question is: what should we be saying when “speaking” with Him?

It seems that many who pray use it mostly to ask for things they want, even though God has already provided what they need. This is in keeping with the self-centered, materialistic mind-set of society today.

Why should one ask for more than they need when there are so many around the world who are barely able to scratch out the most basic existence? To ask for more when we already have enough, may be offensive to God. He has a life plan for each of us and He will provide precisely what we need to support that life plan and the service to which we have been called.

I question the value of saying prayers prescribed by a religion in a long chain over and over again. The repetitive nature of this form of prayer can quickly make the process one of a mindless drone. If the first repetition was said from the heart with sincere and conscious intent, then enough said.

Saying the same prayer again and again is not likely to give it greater force. In fact, it may even have a negative effect. Who wants to hear the same thing over and over? Soon one stops listening. When you say a single prayer with all of your heart and soul, it will be heard throughout all of the heavenly spheres with clarity and power.

And praying should not be restricted to time spent at one’s place of worship. Prayer should be an ongoing, frequent, daily practice said anywhere at any time. This is especially true for prayers of thanks. As a continuous process, prayer is a spiritual presence of mind where one is always aware of the presence of God in all things.

We should not make “promises” to God such that if He gives us X, then we promise to change our ways or do Y. Instead, we should attend to how we live on a daily basis, and always treat others with kindness. Then we will be rewarded without asking.

We are all human with limited ability to protect ourselves from harm and to cope with pain and suffering. If we find ourselves in a dangerous situation, or we suffer from some malady, prayer can often bring the help and strength we need to endure.

When we ask for material things for ourselves, prayer becomes a hollow self-serving exercise that may fall upon deaf ears. However, prayer becomes an expression of our spirit when we use it to give thanks for what God has chosen to give us, to ask for help for others, and to seek guidance concerning how we can be better human beings.