“Pray without asking for anything.”
Wait. What? Isn’t that what praying is all about? How will God know what I want (as if He is Santa)? I was challenged a few years back to take a day, or week, and pray without asking for anything. That was more difficult than I gave it credit. Our habit is to ask God for stuff. The problem is that we often just ask for stuff, rather than something meaningful. Right now I am praying
- for a friend to have words and wisdom in a particular situation.
- That the house would sell
- My kids would shine in dark places
- That my mother in law would make the cranberry salad we all love so much
Now, that last one is a little ridiculous sounding until you have tasted it, but I digress. The point is that much of our prayer time is spent requesting. As a parent, I am not fond of every time my child speaks to me there is a request. Even the flattery at the beginning is just a prelude to a kiss. They want so they ask. I don’t begrudge them asking since they cannot really provide for themselves in any capacity, but it would be nice to have a change of pace.
Do you find yourself asking for stuff every time? Is your prescribed praise time in prayer just a way to “butter up” the “man upstairs” so that you can get more stuff? Do you think God might appreciate a change of pace now and then? I am thinking that now and then it is healthy for us to just thank God and not ask for anything. When Jesus was asked how a person should pray, He included requests, but what if we turned them into thanks? Because God is consistent, these will sound like Give Thanks and Party On.
Here are 4 prayers of thanksgiving from the prayer Jesus taught the people that Matthew recorded in chapter 6 of his gospel. I will give a brief note and then a sample prayer:
9Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
10May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
11Give us today the food we need,
12and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
- Matthew 6:9-10 – Thank You for Your power and presence.
This preamble sets the tone. While you could just say this is praise and recognition, I suggest we take these words and give thanks to God. He is our Father because of Jesus and our faith. I am thankful that I can trust in my Heavenly Father. I am thankful that God is in control when my life is not. I am thankful that His will is being done in Heaven and one day will be the same here when Jesus returns.
Thank you God you your power and presence. Without it we would all certainly be lost and living in anarchy. Thank you that you are in control. Thank you for being present with me even when I don’t feel it. Thank you.
- Matthew 6:11 – Thank You for Your provision.
The fact that you have daily bread is a result of God. The fact that you have a job to bring in money to buy groceries, cars, and houses is because of God. He is the provider for all that is. Nothing happens that He is not aware of, or caused to happen. I didn’t earn the money, God gave it to me. You didn’t earn that truck or house, God gave them to you. We like to think we do more than we really do.
Thank you God for providing me with clothes, shoes, cars, a house, streets to drive on, church to belong, schools to attend, and jobs to bring in money. Thank you for your gracious provision. Thank you for meeting my needs and sometimes my wants. Thank you.
- Matthew 6:12 – Thank you for peace.
Forgiveness brings about peace between you and God and you and others. Forgiveness brings people back together that were apart. Forgiveness forges new roads, new relationships, and new opportunities. Forgiveness frees you to be what God created you to be. Forgiveness for yesterday’s hurts frees you for today’s blessing.
Thank you God for Your forgiveness through Jesus Christ. My shame, guilt, and stain have been removed. My alienation from you has been removed. Thank you for my serenity and sanity. Thank you for releasing my sin debt. Thank you for bringing restoration in my family. Thank you.
- Matthew 6:13 – Thank you for protection.
While I firmly believe, for the Christian, God will allow you to experience more than you can handle, I also firmly believe that God will protect you from sin being your only option. You, as a believer, don’t have to sin. There is always an escape route if you would choose it. God protects us from limited options. God protects from Hell once we have placed faith in Jesus.
Thank you God for giving me options and protecting me from sin being the sole option. Thank you God for holding my soul in your hand from which it cannot be taken by any force. Thank you for the hope and healing you have given. Thank you.
May our lives be ones of thanksgiving to God for all the great things he has done!