The disciples said to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). They would not have asked if they had not wanted to learn. I believe most Christians would love to be faithful in prayer but they lack understanding of how to pray. There has been no shortage of instruction by well-intentioned teachers sharing formulas and strategies for effective prayer, and while I am not condemning any of this, I believe the kind of prayer that most pleases God is very simple.
Many Christians pray out of a sense of obligation; others pray only when tragedy strikes or a crisis befalls them. But we need to grasp the foundational truth that prayer is not just for our own welfare or relief but for the delight of the Lord.
Two basic elements must go together: our benefit and God’s delight. We are not to merely intercede for things we need, but we must ask for the things he desires. Of course, we need to unburden our hearts and seek a supply of his strength, but Christians can be very self-centered when it comes to prayer. He has told us to cast all our cares upon him but our praying is not complete if we do not understand God’s need, as well — his desire for fellowship with us — intimacy and communion.
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25). And back in 6:8, Jesus says, “For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”
God is saying to us, “When you come into my presence, focus your attention on fellowship with me, on getting to know me. I already know your needs; you don’t have to ask over and over. I’ll take care of them all! Just seek me and let’s enjoy sweet fellowship.”