The Word of God tells us much about asking for things in prayer. The Lord's Prayer says; "give us this day our daily bread." James 4:2 says; "You have not because you ask not." Consider Luke 11:9; "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."
It is clear from these and hundreds of other passages that God wants us to come to him and ask for things. We have a promise in James 5:18 that our prayers matter mightily; "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." We should not hesitate to pray often because we don't want to bother God or because we think he is too busy with more important stuff or because we just got a big answer and feel our quota is used up.
I have been saying for years that I don't want to get to heaven and have the Lord tell me that I could have had so much more on earth if I would have just asked for it. I want everything here on earth in material and spiritual blessings that he is willing and wants to give me. I often say; "Lord, if you don't give me this thing it will not be for my lack of asking you. I do not want it to be said of me that I had not because I asked not."
But this article is titled, "Giving up the gimmes" so what am I talking about? I'm talking about an attitude of heart that will hinder our prayers and our spiritual progress. The "gimme" mentality is an immature approach to God. Compare a child who is a spoiled brat with a child who is secure and who asks for things both expectantly and with thanksgiving.
The spoiled brat is demanding, selfish, manipulative, grabby, and utterly unappealing. I have watched children like this before and have thought to myself what a rude awakening they will have as adults. When they grow up and get into the "real world" they will find it does not revolve around them anymore. Earthly parents may spoil their children but God is the perfect Heavenly Father and he is not about to. Having thrown a couple of good temper tantrums in my day I'm afraid I know all too well.
Here are some attributes of the gimme mentality:
You have to do this God (demanding)
There is a place and a time to get hold of God and demand and command. Jacob did it; Hannah did it and so have many others. Aggressive persistent prayer is often called for. But I am talking about a demanding attitude that is actually trying to control God. This attitude says; "You have to do this because I said so." This kind of demanding says that we are the master and God is the servant.
It's not fair (bitterness)
We can pray out of bitterness but it doesn't get us very far. Often an attitude of "It's not fair" is closely tied to self-pity which is a stinky and immature emotion worth discarding on the garbage heap. (For more on this, read, "A Stinky Emotion")
Someone else has this and I want it too (jealousy & covetousness)
Why are we asking for this particular thing? Are we comparing ourselves to others and the blessings in their life? Do we think someone has more than us? Try to remember that it may appear that someone else's life is far more blessed than ours because we only see their life on the surface. They may be looking right back at us with envy.
You promised! (Attempt to manipulate)
It is completely fine to remind God of his promises and to repeat them back to him as we pray. The Lord likes to be reminded and he honors his word. BUT, what we are talking about here is an attempt to manipulate God. Believe me, it isn't possible. When we try to use God's Word against him, it fails every time. Other manipulation tactics include bargaining like "I'll never do such and such again if you answer this prayer" or using our good works to prove we "deserve" the answer.
The heart of the gimme attitude is underlined with "selfish gain" but we may conceal that with pious faith filled statements. On the surface, others may not be able to tell that we have a "gimme" heart but God is never fooled. There are several ways to test yourself to honestly assess your own heart as you pray. For instance:
Look at your motives in asking.
Ask God to reveal your blind spots.
Sincerely ask God to cause his desires for you to rise up inside yourself so you will only be asking what he already wants for you.
Don't be so hasty. Pray for direction before you ask.
Expect God to answer and allow for him to answer in the BEST way which may be different than YOUR way.
We talked about the child who is a spoiled brat; now let's consider the other child. How wonderfully appealing it is to find a child who is grateful instead of grabby. It is a delight to see a small child take the hand of her father and look up with a sense of security and love. Because the child feels safe in the love of the parent, she knows that anything she asks for will be carefully considered. She knows she can ask and ask and the Father delights in providing every good thing.
Giving up the gimmes actually yields a richer prayer life and is well worth it. It really means you are giving up a selfish immature heart and starting the process of growing up. As you grow you become more trustworthy and more responsible and your prayers have more authority. Your motives are right so you see more answers.
While we will always have a Father/child relationship with God there is another title he would like to bestow upon us. As we mature, he will call us "Friend."
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