Meeting God in prayer
The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice [to spend time with Jesus], and it will not be taken away from her.”
The right choice. The better meal. We’ve been looking at how Jesus’ response to Martha gives us direction on how we are encouraged and fueled to live out the life Jesus has given us. Last time, we saw how God wants to meet us through our time in the Scriptures. This time, we’re looking at the other way that God meets us – through prayer.
To pray for things we want – material items or particular circumstances – that comes rather easy. We know all the things we want or wish for because we spend a lot of time thinking about them.
When James was writing to believers, he warns them about their “wants” and the motives behind them:
What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from your passions that wage war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and wage war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God. Or do you think it’s without reason that the Scripture says: The spirit He made to dwell in us envies intensely?
God is jealous for our attention. Think about it: He has saved us from being eternally separated from Him and He gives us never-ending, eternal life…so of course He is offended when our main interaction with Him is treating Him like a cosmic vending machine so we can get stuff to impress others with how great we are.
Fortunately for his readers (and us), immediately after James gives that harsh, well-deserved rebuke, he then gives hope and a proverb to remedy their mindset:
James 4:6-7, 10
But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says:
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.
Not only does God have grace for us to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life, but there is also grace for when we selfishly return to a sinful mindset! We have access to this grace when we humble ourselves before the Lord. And how do we do that? Through prayer that is God-focused, not us-focused!
I’m sure your next question will be “How do I pray to God, about God? Isn’t that a little weird?”
What I can tell you is that God-focused prayers is exactly how Jesus spent His time with God the Father. If we don’t feel like we know “how to” pray well enough, then I refer you to the blog series I wrote on learning how to pray as Jesus prayed. Those posts started on November 5th, 2014 and ended on April 8th, 2015.
But there is a simpler, more direct way to learn to pray like Jesus did. All we need to do is ask, like one of the disciples did:
He was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray”
In the verses that follow, Jesus gave His disciples a pattern, an example of how He prayed to God the Father. It’s worth our time to check it out and practice using that format in our prayers – all with aim of making the right choice and building our relationship with God.