Martin Luther King Jr. said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”
And, we need to take a look at our prayers as there is no better mirror for your theology than the content of your prayers. What you pray for reflects what you believe about God. What you pray for or what you don’t pray for, reflects what you believe about who God is, what His character is like, and His disposition towards us, His children. It’s as if the words we use in our prayers are like pieces of mirrored glass, each one reflecting our beliefs about the one we’re addressing.
For example, if you don’t pray at all, you likely don’t believe in God or don’t believe He answers prayer. If you pray very small prayers all the time, you probably don’t believe in a God who answers big prayers. If almost all of your prayers are for yourself and your own well-being — “bless me, help me, comfort me, be with me” — then this reflects your belief that God is there to serve you. People who hold this belief, whether they admit it or not, often end up getting angry and disgruntled if God doesn’t give them what they asked for.
The specific language we use when we pray says a lot about what we believe about God as well. For example, when someone is facing a tough situation and they exhaust all possibilities of resolving the problem themselves, they say, “Well, now all we can do now is pray!” If prayer for you is a last resort, this reflects what you believe about God.
Can’t you just see God up in Heaven saying, “So you’re down to prayer now? You mean it’s all up to Me? Well, no pressure! Thanks a lot for waiting until the last minute, like I don’t have a trillion other prayers to answer before breakfast.” I’m not trying to be irreverent here, I’m only trying to illustrate that what you say when you pray clearly reflects what you believe about God.
Take a moment right now and think back over what you prayed last week. If your first thought is, “Well, I don’t think I really prayed for anything last week,” then I think that speaks for itself. If you can’t really remember what you prayed for, what does that say about your belief in God? Is He just as forgettable?
Maybe you’re saying, “Oh yeah, I prayed last week. I prayed for this, and then for that, and then some more of this and some of that.” As you think through what and who you prayed for last week, I encourage you to jot down at least three or four of your requests. Now, as you look over your prayer list, ask yourself this question: if God answered yes to all of your prayers last week, if He just miraculously granted everything you prayed for, what would be different in the world today?
Think about it. If God answered everything that you prayed for last week, what would be different in the world today? Chances are pretty good that if you prayed like most people in our culture, the only things that would be different would be in your immediate surroundings.
No matter what we prayed for last week, I’m convinced that if we really want to make a big difference in this life, we must learn to pray some very bold and big prayers. Prayers that will more adequately display who God really is and what we believe about Him. Remember, and this is my point, “What you pray for reflects what you believe about God.” There’s no better mirror for someone’s theology than the content of their prayers.