For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
Romans 1:21-23 (NIV)
Let me start by saying there is nothing wrong with asking God for your wants or needs. Afterall James 1:17 says that every good and perfect gift comes from above. The problem is that many of us ask things of a God who we don't even know. If we knew more about God we wouldn't try to barter with Him. What do we really have to offer anyway? "Lord if you do this one thing for me, I promise I'll insert empty promise here." There is nothing we can give God that He didn't create and nothing we can do for God that He can't do for Himself. If we knew more about God we wouldn't pray for ungodly things. "Lord, she is really getting on my nerves. I hope she gets hit by a bus and goes straight to hell." Come on...really? If we knew more about God, we wouldn't pray for things to get us more entangled with the world. "Lord, please let me get this new job with the big paycheck so I can afford more alcohol, loose women, and fast cars."
I admit these examples may be a littlet exorbitant, but they show us what can happen when we pray to an unfamiliar God. They also help us understand why many of our prayers go unanswered. The bible says,
You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
James 4:2-3 (NIV)
The Lord may in fact give you the job with the big paycheck, but it's not so that you can start idolizing yourself. If you know God, you know that God blesses us so that we can bless others. The disciples didn't get healing power to sit around and heal each other. The prophets didn't form a book club and sit around telling each other stories. Your blessings are only given to you so that you can glorify God.
So today in an effort to know God better and acknowledging that He already knows our wants and needs (Matthew 6:8), I want us to practice praying without asking God for anything. He has already done more than enough. So today let's just talk to God. Thank Him for who He is, what He's done, and what He's still doing. Thank Him for saving you from yourself, for not giving you what you thought you wanted. Thank Him for your unique creation, His unconditional love, and His divine purpose for your life. It may seem a little strange at first, but you will find that when you shift your focus from yourself to God, your prayer life will become a lot more fulfilling and productive.