The Blazing Center has a good article – More Important Than a Dream Job for recent grads looking for work. It’s something you can never hear too many times.

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I’ve also been reading Frans Bakker’s Facets of Prayer and this stood out under “Improper Prayer” –

Think, for example, of Esau. As big and tough as he was, he lay crying bitterly at his father’s feet, begging for a blessing. Alas, Esau was concerned with the benefits and not the benefactor…So it is with those who engage in this prayer. From whom they receive gifts is of little importance. They want the gifts, not the Giver…Such prayer will never be answered. Would the great giver separate the gift from Himself? Then God would not be God.

I was convicted by this because it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately – how I keep failing at seeking God for who He is, not what I want out of him. I think the first step in the spiritual journey of prayer is to actually begin to ask God for things, to seek Him out in prayer believing that He can and will answer and reyling on Him to do so. The second step I think is beginning to pray to Him for other people -moving beyond simple selfish asking just for yourself to be concerned about other people, lift them up to the Great God of the universe too. Since I began seriously praying(not that long ago) I discovered gradually that I actually, for the most part, really do like praying for people. I consider it an act of service for them, and I have faith that God will help them. But there’s two problems with this – number one is, I’ve been questioning my motives in praying for people – is it just out of my love for them, rather than a pure godly love? Do I want to lay some claim on them by praying for them? Am I just praying for them so that I can tell them so and draw closer to them, rather than praying for them for God’s sake? And do I pray only for those I love and am close to, or is my prayer equally frequent and fervent for those in the outer layer of my prayer-intimacy? (I know for certain I fall far short in that last area anyway). So already this second step, at least for me, is clouded by so much selfishness.  But the third step, even beyond the second step, is seeking Him out for Himself, and that is where I fall really short.  I turn to God, at least three-fourths of the time, seeking emotional peace or comfort, or guidance, or asking him to fix things in my life, or praying for my present or future, or often for friends, of course, and their emotional peace, current life, etc. So seldom do I just spend time in prayer with God, listening to God. A friend of mine wrote this a while back –

Prayer is conversation with God…Consider what it would be like to have a one-way conversation with a friend. You tell your friend everything–personal facts, how your week is going, anything you are thinking about–and then you ignore your friend and keep talking when he/she responds. Do you think you could deepen your relationship or learn anything with your friend this way? Wouldn’t this be a lot stranger than a conversation that involves both of you talking and listening? Or if you went back in time to talk to someone famous, would you just talk or would you try to absorb as much as you could by listening to that person? Cliched analogies aside, that could only be a bit of what I’m missing when I don’t let His voice resonate in my heart. The way I’ve been praying is awkward, but counterintuitively listening to God can be spiritually refreshing. For instance, this is what the Lord’s Prayer sounds like when we just “go through the motions” without listening:

Man: Our Father, who art in heaven . . .
God: You called?
Man: Don’t interrupt me. I’m praying. Hallowed be thy name . . .

In contrast, here’s a prayer by A.W. Tozer that Amy Lin posted in one of those inspiring notes:

Oh God, show me Thy glory.
Oh God, show me myself.
Oh God, show me the need of the world.

If we really mean these words, we must actively listen for God’s response. Our loving God wants to share His heart with us, and He wants us to know Him.

I was convicted by the Bakker example of Esau also because I remember vividly how I’ve always despised Esau – he’s always been one of my least favorite characters in the Bible because not only is he sinful, but his sinfulness is of such a petty and childish manner. I remember always feeling contempt and wonder at how he didn’t seem to care for his father or who his father was at all, even though his father was clearly dying/old and whose company should be treasured. He always just seemed concerned with the blessing. I was never able to understand that. And yet – that’s what I do with God. I always want something from God – I don’t want Him. And while I continue to draw from him only things concerning me, my knowledge of Him, and hence my holiness and ability to live a God-centered and God-honouring life, will always be limited, crippled.

Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 (italics mine)

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