C. S. Lewis was once asked why he prayed. Things were not going his way and a friend thought it was futile to pray if God was never going to change and make things go the way humans think they should go. Lewis poignantly replied: “I don’t pray so I can change God. I pray so God can change me.” In our culture where everyone has an opinion about nearly everything that is important and unimportant, what are you asking God to change in you when you pray to him?
Pray for a kingdom-sized perspective. Our limited view on how God can and will work is very confining. We need God’s help in every project, effort, ministry, and endeavor. In fact, as in Paul’s vantage point, all of what this world offers regarding success and achievement is absolutely worthless in the kingdom of God compared to where God’s work leads.
Pray for divine wisdom. The Scriptures are clear when James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Another element of our information world is not only does everyone have an opinion, but everyone thinks all knowledge is at the click of a mouse today. This is not a new problem. When is the last time you cried out to God in a prayer of anguish because you truly did not know what to do? When is the last time you prayed to search for the mind of Christ more than you searched the Internet? Guilty? Me too? Yet, there have been several times in recent months and years when I prayed to the Lord first and he supernaturally answered my prayers. Why would anyone look anywhere else for help?
Pray for eternal, optimistic hope. People with poor perspectives are easy to find. It seems they follow most of us around. Again, they have lots of opinions and it seems nothing is ever right. Granted, there are some who never look at any situation with objectivity because they are only capable of “happy talk.” Yet there are many times and places when we need to simply bow and pray for hope. Jesus still changes lives. Jesus can bring a congregation back together. The Spirit of the Lord can bring those trapped in bitterness and rage into a life of perfect love. In short, I still pray for miracles. Do you? It is obvious that things are not great on earth. They never have been this side of Eden. Knowing this world is not our home, I’m compelled daily to pray for a hope that supersedes this earthly journey in view of the paradise of heaven.
Pray for life-changing outcomes. How does God need to change you? Is it your outlook? Do you say “never” more than “not yet?” Do you believe that the kingdom of Christ can come here on earth as Jesus taught us to pray? Are there people you need to forgive? Are there circumstances and statements you need to give to God in prayer so he can bury them never to be remembered again? Are you praying so God can change others? Are you praying so he can change you?
Jim Dunn is the executive director of Church Multiplication and Discipleship for The Wesleyan Church.