When I was a child, one of the most exciting parts of Christmas was making a list of all the toys and gifts I wanted from my family, but more importantly from Santa Claus. My dad would take me and my sisters to the toy store where we would wander through every aisle writing down every toy we wished to have.
Eventually, we would go to the mall to visit Santa, sit on his lap, and make our gift request. The visit was all about us; what we wanted and how much we wanted it was the usual topic of conversation with the jolly old man. We never asked about him. We never told him how much we loved him or thanked him for the toys he had left us the year before.
The conversation was entirely about us and never about him.
I fear that we treat God a lot like Santa Claus.
When we pray, we list all the things we want God to do for us and tend to forget that prayer is a two-way conversation.
God wants us to ask Him for the desires of our hearts. The Bible says that we have not because we ask not (James 4:3), and Jesus tells us that if we ask, it will be given to us and if we seek, we will find (Matthew 7:7). God wants to hear our request.
Making requests of God is a good thing. It’s when we use God to get all the things we want or only spend time in prayer asking Him for things that this becomes a problem.
Prayer is not just a time for us to speak about ourselves, it’s a time for us to listen to God and praise Him.
We listen to God in prayer by quieting the noise around us and in us by just sitting in the presence of God. We can do this by reading Scripture and letting the Holy Spirit speak to us through it. This takes patience and time.
You should not be waiting for an audible voice; the Lord hardly speaks that way today. He speaks to us instead in a still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12), a quiet whisper that we must be intently listening for to understand.
Prayer is also a time for us to praise God. We should spend time praising God for the blessings He has granted us and just adoring Him for who He is. We can spend time dwelling on His character and let His greatness drive us to worship and praise.
It’s great for us to ask God to fulfill our desires with the right motives, but we must remember that this is not how He wants us to spend all of our time with Him.
God doesn’t exist to just grant all of our requests and prayer does not exist simply for us to ask for things. We should sit and listen to our Lord and adore Him in our prayers. He is certainly worthy of it.
We must remember that God is not Santa Claus and we should stop treating Him as such.