I recently revisited some of the most viewed posts on this site. It’s always interesting to me. I’ll share them from time to time. Today’s was first published ten years ago.
It’s difficult to describe the difference between a spoiled child prayer and a sincere, God-centered prayer. Every example I try to type could be misinterpreted, because all you read are the words. Each of us could repeat or hear the same words but interpret them in different ways. The words we use aren’t as critical as the approach we take. Attitude matters.
When we approach God as a spoiled child, we expect we’ll get what we ask. To a spoiled child, a question is simply a demand in disguise. Some signs of a spoiled child include:
- Does not understand the word “no.”
- Confuses wants with needs.
- Does not follow the rules.
- Must always have his or her way.
- Needs to control others.
- Is easily frustrated.
- Often feels bored.
I see the spiritual implications of prayer life all over these.
- “I don’t understand why I didn’t get what I asked for. God says I’ll receive whatever I ask!”
- “God isn’t meeting my needs.”
- “Why should I pray if God already knows what I’m going to ask?”
- “I know God has given this to others. There’s no reason I shouldn’t have it, too.”
- “What you need to pray is ___________________.”
- “It’s frustrating to be told to take everything to God and then not feel as if it does any good!”
- “Prayer gets monotonous. It’s like I’m having the same conversation over and over.”
I’m not saying every person who prayers selfishly has all of these qualities or anyone who has one of these qualities is praying spoiled child prayers. What I know for sure is that I’ve seen some of these signs in my own prayer life at times. What spoiled child and selfish pray-ers have in common is a lack of maturity. But there’s hope!
A spoiled child doesn’t have to become a spoiled adult. Guidance, discipline, and life experience are strong teachers. The same is true when growing in prayer. Guidance and discipline from others and God’s Word will provide challenges to shape responses and habits. Life experiences, framed in biblical truth, are firm building blocks.
If you pray spoiled child prayers, you need to ask God to teach you how to approach him differently. Ask him to convict you of attitude adjustments. Once you stop throwing your temper tantrum and stand quiet long enough to listen, you might find yourself in a temporary time out, but it will be worth the lesson learned.