Jonathan Edwards, in his book Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People, In Extraordinary Prayer, (the title goes on for quite a bit more) wrote the following as the second point of his treatise:
THE GOOD WHICH SHALL BE BROUGHT BY PRAYER: GOD HIMSELF. Scripture says, “They shall go to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of Hosts.” The good that they seek for is “The Lord of Hosts,” Himself. If “seeking God” means no more than seeking the favor or mercy of God then “praying before the Lord,” and “seeking the Lord of Hosts” must be looked upon as synonymous. However, “seeking the Lord” is commonly used to mean something far more than seeking something from God. Surely it implies that God Himself is what is desired and sought after.
Our prayers should first and foremost be an expression of our love for God and of our desire to know Him more and more – every day and in every way. As Edwards wrote, we should be focused on seeking God, not seeking something from God. Too often our prayers become a To-Do list for God rather than an opportunity to praise Him and thank Him for Who He is and what He has done. And too often our To-Do list is offered before we take the time to confess our sins in order to remove barriers that have separated us from the One to Whom we bring our list. How arrogant of us to think this to be acceptable.
In Psalm 63 David expresses praise for God when he was in the wilderness of Judah running for his life. He didn’t lead off his prayer with “smite my enemies.” He offered up praise to God knowing that God would deal with the problems he was facing. In fact, he says just that in the last three verses.
A psalm of David – at a time when David was in the wilderness of Judah.
1 O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.
3 Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
5 You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.
6 I lie awake thinking of you,
meditating on you through the night.
7 Because you are my helper,
I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your strong right hand holds me securely.
9 But those plotting to destroy me will come to ruin.
They will go down into the depths of the earth.
10 They will die by the sword
and become the food of jackals.
11 But the king will rejoice in God.
All who swear to tell the truth will praise him,
while liars will be silenced.
May we go to God in prayer – praising and honoring our Lord and Savior – knowing that when “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” the needs we have will be met by the One Who loves us and wants to do our To-Do list.
One more thing – often that To-Do list seems rather insignificant once we enter into the presence of the Holy God. For when we delight ourselves in the Lord He will give us the desires of our heart. However, our desires change when we delight ourselves in the Lord. His desires become our desires and His To-Do list becomes our To-Do list. And isn’t that what we really want – to do His will?