Sometime back, I read about a man and his young son who were driving to the McDonald's restaurant in their community. As they neared their destination, they noticed an accident up ahead, involving several vehicles. The police and ambulance attendants were busy trying to sort things out and help those who were hurt. Out of concern for the injured, the father suggested to his son that they pray for the people. Then he heard his son say, very quietly, "Please God, don't let all those cars keep us from getting into McDonald's!"
Have you ever heard yourself praying for just the things you want, and the situations that involve primarily your interests? If you’re like many of us, it’s easy to forget about the concerns of others in prayer, unless you’re praying about a special need that someone may have specifically asked you to speak to the Lord about.
Now, there's nothing wrong about praying for our personal needs and concerns. In fact, in Luke 11, Jesus taught his disciples to pray for themselves: "Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.' And he said to them, 'When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'"
The Lord followed this with a parable of a man who boldly and persistently asked a friend for food to give to an unexpected visitor late at night. Jesus' intention was to teach his disciples that prayer is intended to request of God our needs, as well as those of others. We need "daily bread," and unless we receive forgiveness of our sins, we are separated from God. Further, the apostle Paul requested that others pray for him and the work he was doing.
But as we look at the references and requests for prayer in scripture, so many of them include concern for others:
• 1 Timothy 2:1-4 — "...I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way."
• Ephesians 1:16-17 — "I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him...."
Some of the most important language from the apostle Paul is found in his prayers for his readers and his desire that they prayer for others as well.
We ought to begin each day with prayer — for ourselves and others — as well as in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord.
Of course, one of the best ways to learn to pray better is the same as learning how to do a lot of things — by doing it! Every day will be better for us and those around us if we'll spend more time talking with God.
I'm praying that God will bless you in every good thing.