It Doesn’t Change God, It Changes Me!
Why do you pray? Maybe you’ve been asked this question before. As a pastor, I’ve heard the gamut of responses – everything from “I don’t pray,” to “I pray when I need God to give me something.” One time, someone even told me that the last time they prayed was when they were bending over the porcelain throne, pouring their heart (I mean stomach) out after one too many drinks! They said, “God if you save me from this pain, I promise I’ll never drink again!”
I’ve noticed that most of the praying we do lapses quickly into requests. We ask God to save us from situations, heal us, provide for us, etc. There’s nothing wrong with asking for God’s provision – but if petition is the central focus of your prayer life, you’re missing out on an essential truth of prayer.
Prayer doesn’t change God, it changes me. Prayer will transform our lives because it will shape us into the image of Christ and fill us with the Holy Spirit. There is a scene in the movie Shadowlands that says: I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God, it changes me.
Prayer is the most powerful tool followers of Jesus have. It has the power to transforms lives, to bring healing, to produce a miracle and to change a heart. It is a conversation with God – a living testament that God desires deep relationship with us. Prayer changes us; it draws us closer to God, focuses our priorities and moves us to action.
Jesus told a story once to illustrate why prayer isn’t a one-way street. It’s not us asking God for something. Instead, it’s a two-way relationship where we communicate with God as we are transformed from the inside out.
Luke 11:5-13 says:
5 Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, 6 ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ 7 And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ 8 But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. 9 “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? 12 Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! 13 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
Notice that in this passage the result of persistence in prayer isn’t the satisfaction of knowing that God has given you what you’ve asked for. Rather, it’s the treasure of having the Holy Spirit. Jesus says the Father gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask. In other words, the result of your prayer life is being filled with the Spirit – which transforms and renews your life.
So as you pray – know that God wants to fill your life with something that will transform you. Prayer pulls us closer to God, focuses our priorities, softens our hearts and keeps us on the right path.
Today – I am praying over you that you would have a soft heart and stay on the right path as you pray. I pray that you would know that prayer is an active relationship with a living God.