One truth shared: Focused prayer goes to God with things that are according to his will and for the good of his kingdom.
Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”
Focused Prayer Claims What God Wants for Us, Not What We Want from Him
If you were Aladdin, what would you ask for? It’s a question people have been asking since the original Disney movie came out in 1992. To be honest, it’s kind of a fun game to play and sure to spark a good (though shallow) debate with friends.
“I’d ask for infinity wishes,” (says every young person who thinks they are smarter than everyone else).
“You can’t do that,” is always the reply.
Well, what would you ask for? Fame? Fortune? Money? Maybe you’re slightly more clever, and you would ask for some amazing career or secret investment that keeps the money flowing without end. Or maybe you’re slightly less selfish and would ask for grandma to be cured of cancer or for the HOCO date you dumped to find true happiness with someone else.
I wonder how often we treat God like this, as if we are Aladdin and he’s some magic genie in a bottle. Take a moment and think about your prayer life. How often are you going to God with something that you really, really want? Better grades . . . to pass a test . . . a fixed friendship . . . a happier home life . . . success in your future . . . a “Yes” to your prom-posal.
While we certainly can ask God for all kinds of things, the Bible reminds us what truly focused prayer is like. Prayer that is properly focused goes to God with things that are according to his will. Proper prayer is a mixture of confessing sin, praising God, thanking God, and then also bringing our requests to him. But those requests are not just for iPhones, PS5s, and Porsches. Instead, focused prayer goes to God with things that line up with his will—for strength, wisdom, perseverance, peace, comfort, help and healing for others, etc. Because we are God’s dearly loved children, we know that we can bring such focused prayers to our Father with confidence, just like Abraham did.
God revealed to Abraham his plan of bringing judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah for their rebellious sin and rejection. But Abraham boldly pleaded with God to change his plans. In fact, he was so bold that he seemingly bargained with God to see how low he would go. Six times he went to God in prayer on behalf of those people and his nephew Lot’s family living there! But again, Abraham knew that God is a gracious Father, he was his dearly loved child, and this prayer was something that would be in line with God’s will (being merciful to people).
So young friends, pray away! Let it rip! Go to God boldly and confidently in prayer. But do so not with genie-in-a-bottle wishes. Go to God with bold requests trusting his love and that his will is always done.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, how gracious you are to invite us to communicate with you in prayer! Give me bold confidence to come before you with all my prayers. Help me also to pray not only for my wants and needs, but also for things that are according to your will and good purpose. Amen.