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How to Pray

“Oh Lord why don’t ya buy me a Mercedez Benz” sings Janis Joplin, reflecting many a perception among the unbelieving world about Christians and believers who live out their selfish lives not much differently than the average sinner. For years I found myself guilty of the same motivations – almost cursing God for every hurdle or difficulty I came across in my life. In times like this God would often respond to me: “What have I ever done against you?” My reasoning was that, by believing and placing my faith in God, I should be rewarded, like Job was. But after reflecting on God’s defense, it did seem absurd that I would blame God for all my calamities. Sure, God is all powerful and omniscient, but the bible also says that “chance and misfortune happen to them all”. It also says that God tests our faith regularly, and that many fall away whenever subjected to the slightest suffering. I was angry because I placed my faith and hopes in God and expected to be rewarded for it. I made certain sacrifices to follow “The Way”, and when I did not see material benefits from my sacrifices, I grew angry and blamed God.

But try to look at things a bit from God’s perspective. Set aside your endless childish ranting of “I want, I want, I want” and perceive God as the most loving parent who constantly has to deal with the whining of his impatient children, who will quickly and accusingly point their fingers at God whenever things do not turn out perfectly. As the Israelites while they were uprooted from Egypt; as ourselves with the regular misfortunes and inconveniences of our lives. God is compassionate and ever loving, but if we spend most of our energies and focus chasing after material gain, hoarding wealth, increased consumption and things unrelated to spiritual matters, is there really a reason why he should uproot and heave massive mountains just to cater to our selfish wants? And if, while pursuing our betterment we run into hurdles or inconveniences and based on that alone choose not to follow God or be angry at him, is he supposed to fall to his knees, become sympathetic, and cater to our wants?

Now one may argue: “Well, if there is no material gain to following God, or some beneficial bribe, why follow him at all?” That is a good and serious questions, for which you might want to read the profit of following Jesus.

If you’ve gotten past this point, grown spiritually as a believer and found the real profit of faith in God – and only then realize how much greater is this profit and reward than any material benefits or satisfaction of temptation which the world may offer – then hopefully you will also have realized that prayer can be a powerful tool to help you grow spiritually and keep your motivation and focus on track.

To help you overcome temptation and the distractions offered by this world so that you can continue to grow spiritually and stay on the “narrow path”. The path of a Christian or believer is not some road from point A to point B, where point A is now – an unsatisfied state – a B is happy and wealthy and successful sometime in the future. No, the path is not some linear route which can be measured with a ruler but a journey of spiritual growth that takes place within us. A journey towards Nirvana and the proper state of mind, when we have blossomed and are ready to die and meet our maker.

So before we pray, we should make sure we have the right motivations. Ideally, prayers should not be selfish at all. Even though God could try to intercede and make us happy – because he loves us. But if we focus too much on selfish gain and our own wants, there is a great risk that we will miss the entire point. Our focus will be on point B – something we as humans can gauge visually and materially – as opposed to focus within ourselves and on constant spiritual and character development.

This core motivation is not an easy concept to understand, but if you can get at least to this point, one might argue that you have finally reached the BEGINNING of the path and are ready to move “forward”.

For this purpose I have compiled some selfless prayers which have occurred to me over time and which I feel serve a better purpose than, “Oh Lord why don’t you buy me a colour TV”. I think Janis Joplin had a deep and suffering soul and a good message for all of us.

Dear God, I pray that you further soften my heart to help me perceive my own sin and its relation to the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. To help me understand the Way and achieve a more contrite heart, so that I could become more receptive of the Spirit and yield my will to His.


If you would like to ask for advice, feel free to write to me through my contact form.

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