Delicate pinkish-white flowers at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

Lose the entitlement mentality

Do you pray like I do? You ask God for the things you want and get your heart set on them because–well–of course, He’ll answer. He’s God. And God is good, and what I want is good, so surely He’ll give me what I want. Anyone else think like that?

Yeah, I have to admit that’s the way I used to pray, and I would get so frustrated because God didn’t give me what I asked for. It took a few years for me to be able to look back and understand that the things I asked for then would have hurt me. They would have distracted me. They were temporary. They weren’t worth it. God knew it, but I didn’t at the time.

This is the strange part about praying because we need to bring our requests to God. We need to ask Him for things. He wants us to ask Him for things. But whenever we ask Him, we always need to remember that He may not give it to us, and if He doesn’t, it’s not because He’s bad or mean or a liar. It simply means it’s not time yet or maybe our perception of what we’re asking for isn’t accurate.

Delicate pinkish-white flowers at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

Delicate pinkish-white flowers at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

Today’s verse is Matthew 6:10.

May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
    as it is in heaven.

Continuing our little study of the Lord’s Prayer, this is the second part of the instruction manual for praying. Yesterday we started with remembering who God is, remembering that we need to worship Him first before we do anything else, recognizing and acknowledging Him for Who He is. But what about this second step? What does this mean?

Well, think about it.

May your Kingdom come soon.

If we’re praying for God’s kingdom to come soon, that means we care more about the life to come than we do about the life we’re living now. It’s easy to get caught up in our day-to-day routines. It’s even easier to get distracted by the busyness of life. So I know I forget often that this world isn’t all there is. We have a better home, a better life waiting for us, and we need to be storing up treasures for that life rather than this one. Because on this dirt ball that we call home, what the world calls treasure is temporary.

May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

That’s what I started off talking about. God’s will is done in heaven. Duh. That’s an obvious statement, right? But how often is God’s will done on earth? I can tell you I don’t always do what I’m supposed to do. My life would probably look a lot different if I did. So if we’re praying for God’s will to be done down here, that means we’re asking for God to help us know what His will is on a day-to-day basis. And that means we’re willing to give up what we want in favor of what He says is better–even if it doesn’t make sense.

Neither of these steps is weird or unusual, but how many of us actually use these in our prayer lives? How many of us talk to God about these things? How often do you start a prayer by worshiping God first and then telling Him that you care more about eternity than your earthly life and that you’re willing to give up everything you want to do what He says?

If you pray that way, you’re a better Christian than I am.

What’s the point of praying like this? It comes down to attitude, I think. Once we get our perspective straight and remember who God is, the next thing we need to tackle is our entitlement mentality. We think we deserve things. We think God owes us one. No, we’d never say it out loud, but that’s how we treat Him.

Ask God for what you need. He wants to hear from you. But ask respectfully, understanding that God knows what you’re asking for and why you’re asking for it. Remember He doesn’t look at the outside. He looks at your heart and judges your motivation. So if you’re asking for something out of a selfish desire, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to get it. But even if you ask for something with the purest motivation, you still may not get it, and you can’t let that ruin your faith in God. If nothing else, it should bolster it, because I guarantee ten years from now you’ll be able to look back and realize exactly why God didn’t give you your way. You’ll be thankful then.

So skip the angst when your prayers aren’t answered and just thank God for it now. It’ll save drama in the long run.