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Stop Praying for Stuff (and Start Praying for God)

By David Platt

Photo by Olivia Snow on UnsplashAC

In the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9–13; Luke 11:2–4), Jesus teaches his disciples about the priorities that should shape the prayer life of every believer. This model prayer is full of requests—for daily bread, forgiveness, leadership, and deliverance.

But it also shows that our greatest need is not just to get stuff from God. Our greatest need is to know God himself.

Our Misguided Prayers for Stuff

We’ve all prayed for important things in the past and found our prayers weren’t answered; God didn’t do what we thought he should. When we view prayer as nothing more than a request and don’t receive what we ask for, we often start to doubt. We wonder why we should even bother praying in the first place.

Even though the questions are honest, this kind of thinking misses the whole point of prayer. The point of prayer is not just getting God to do stuff. Notice what Jesus says in Matthew 6:7–8: “When you pray, do not heap up empty phrases . . . for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

If God already knows what you need before you even ask, what’s the point? He already knows, so why are you asking? You might think that God is up in heaven taking notes, as if our prayers are informing him of things he doesn’t already know about. No, he already knows what you need—and that’s why the primary point of prayer is not actually to get something, but to know Someone.

Heart of Prayer: Knowing God

That realization will change your prayer life: the primary point of prayer is not to get something—it’s to know Someone. When you go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father who is in secret, there is a reward awaiting you: intimacy with your heavenly Father through prayer. The heart of prayer is what happens when you’re alone with the Father.

Please hear this: the most important thing in your life is not your family, your spouse, your kids, your job, your finances, or your health. The most important thing in your life is your personal intimacy with God, because that affects everything else.

Your family life depends on personal intimacy with God in your heart. Your kids need this from you more than they even need you to put food on the table—this reality will change the way you parent. Your marriage, your job, your finances, and the people around you need this from you. Everything flows from this."


About the Author: David Platt (ThM, PhD, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) is the pastor-teacher of McLean Bible Church, founder of Radical, and a Council member of The Gospel Coalition. He has written several books, including Something Needs to Change and Radical. David and his wife, Heather, have four children.


Article excerpt taken from The Gospel Coalition (U.S. Edition). Read the full resource here:

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