What should we pray for? I want to take a few weeks to answer this question. One of the things that we need to pray for is our needs. We need to confess our needs to God. While Matthew 6:32 reminds us that God already knows what we need, we need to confess those needs to Him. The more I pray the more I realize that prayer is not for God's benefit, but ours. When we pray, we aren't telling God anything new. He does know everything. When we pray, we realize just who we are.
If we are honest with ourselves, we can look at our prayer life and learn much about our relationship with God. We could ask ourselves is God just our genie that we call upon when we need help. We rub the lamp of prayer and bring God out to take care of needs as they arise. Maybe we leave Him in if we know we won't like His opinion on the matter. We could ask ourselves if God is a Father that we humbly come to knowing that He loves us. There's a difference. One person asks God for something, but in reality they are demanding it. The other person asks God for something knowing that He will allow them to have it if it is good for them.
In Matthew 7:7-11 Jesus tells us that if we ask for it we can have it, if we knock on a door then it will be opened to us, and if we seek something then we will find it. He continues by relating this to a father and son relationship asking fathers, "If your sons ask you for bread, will you give them a stone? Of if they ask for a fish, will you give them a serpent?" That is a paraphrase by the way, but Jesus finishes by telling them, "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" Jesus' point is that God will always give us what we ask for if it is good for us.
So the next question is why don't we have good things? God says in Isaiah 55:8, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways..." We don't see things the way God does. And the eyesight problem is ours not His. We see things the wrong way. Things that we think are good may actually be bad for us. Sometimes we ask for good things for the wrong reasons. For instance: maybe we ask God to give us a better job so that we can be more financially stable, but God knows that by giving us that job we will become so comfortable that we will no longer see a need for Him. Then we will stop serving Him, which is bad for us. It looks good, but it's bad. Maybe we want God to heal us from some sickness, but God knows that this sickness will deepen our relationship with Him as we have more time to slow down and read His Word. Maybe this habit will stick with us after our sickness and make us into better Christians. It looks bad at first for us to have to deal with this, but it is good. Maybe we pray for God to spare taking one of our loved ones away, but the death of that loved one will turn a long lost soul back to Christ. I'm not saying that we shouldn't pray for these things. I'm saying that we should pray for them and give them to God trusting that He will always do what is best.
The act of confessing our needs to God is removing weight from us. We have a need or a burden. We come to God in prayer and confess it. By confessing it, we give it to God. AND we let Him keep it. The problem is that we like to take it back. If we actually were to leave it with God, then He would take care of it however He saw fit. That's where real prayers of faith come in. We pray in faith, not that God is going to do whatever we ask Him to do, but that God is always going to do what is best.
So pray, confess your needs to your loving Father, knowing that He will always handle them better than you. His thought are higher than ours. They are better than ours. His answer may not seem good at the time, but you will see it in time.