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A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

Prayer

July 19th, 2007

Recently I read a compilation of actual prayers offered up to God by children. They were funny and refreshingly candid. Like Angela, age 8, who said, “Dear God, could you give my brother some brains? So far he doesn’t have any.” Or “Dear God, thanks for the nice day today. You even fooled the TV weather man.”

One entry on the list captured perhaps the most foundational truth about prayer. Diane, age 8, offered up this communication to God…

“Dear God; I am saying my prayers for me and my brother, Billy, because Billy is six months old and he can’t do anything but sleep and wet his diapers.”

Diane was praying on behalf of her baby brother because he was helpless to do anything on his own.

Someone has wisely noted that, “Prayer is the language of totally helpless creatures.” This is a foundational truth about prayer. In the middle of our self-reliant, self-help, independent, pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, make our own way in the world attitudes, the fact remains that we are, in the things that matter most, totally helpless creatures. Even that which we obtain through our responsible work ethic and effort come directly from the hand of God.

When we pray, be it a prayer of thanks or praise or confession or grief or petition or fear or joy or confusion, we are acknowledging that we are indeed helpless creatures. We are created beings and we desperately need our Creator. We need God. To be sure, this is true.

But what if we turn the question around? Does God need us?

In a word…no.

God doesn’t need anything or anyone. God is self-sufficient. Self-reliant. Self-fulfilling. God is the only One who could stand on stage, accept any award and say with complete integrity, “I’d like to thank no one because it’s all about Me.” God is God. And God is all God needs.

If God is everything in Himself, then how does prayer fit into that? Logically speaking, it doesn’t. When we think seriously about prayer and what’s in it for God, from our human perspective it doesn’t make sense. Our prayers don’t offer God anything that He needs.

God needs nothing from us. God doesn’t need our money. He owns, as the Psalmist put it, “the cattle on a thousand hills.” Elsewhere, the Bible says, “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” God owns everything so He lacks nothing. What do you buy for the God Who has everything? He owns it all.

God possesses all knowledge so there’s no college course you can sign Him up for that would help His resume look better.

God is perfectly content in relationship with Himself so there’s no names you can drop and no one you can introduce Him to that would help Him expand His network.

God is all powerful. He tells the ocean waves “this far and no farther” and He hung the stars in the sky and calls them all by name. And, as the prophet Isaiah eloquently put it, “the nations are but a drop in the bucket to Him and He weighs the islands like fine dust”. So there’s no political office or military position you can offer that would increase His influence or power.

God is immutable, He never changes. So there’s no self-help book you can suggest to Him that would help bring consistency to His life.

God is perfectly balanced in His perfections of love and justice, mercy and wrath, so there’s so anger management course you can enroll Him in that would improve His judgment.

Simply put, God doesn’t need us. Were that the sum total of truth in the Bible, we’d be hopeless indeed. But there is a wonderful twist to the truth that God doesn’t need us. A twist that makes no sense at all and is at the same time a most hilarious surprise.

God doesn’t need us.

God wants us.

It’s a lot to get our head around. The fact that God wants us. It’s true. Prayer from God’s perspective is all about relationship. It can’t be anything else. It’s the only explanation that makes any sense. Why else would a perfect God want to involve Himself with imperfect people like us? We don’t have anything to offer. The only possible reason God has for involving Himself with us is because He wants to.

When I ask Annie and Emma to help me make breakfast, it’s not because I’m incapable of doing that on my own. And it’s certainly not because having two six year-olds grabbing for eggs and bacon with four hands speeds up the process. It’s not because they have a better working knowledge of ham and cheese omelettes. If speed and efficiency and minimal mess were the goal then the best thing for me would be to keep them out of the kitchen.

But that’s not the goal. I ask Annie and Emma to help me make breakfast because I desire the relationship I have with them. So what if Emma gets a little wild with the whisk. So what if Annie throws an extra fistful of cheese in the pan before I can get to her. So what if they make a bigger mess. In the end it’s the mutual satisfaction of relationship that counts.

I don’t need their help. I want their relationship.

The perfect God of the Universe wants and desires relationship with us. We are His creation, created in His image. When we better understand our worth to Him, we’ll better understand why He values our prayers.

It’s all about relationship.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” – 1 John 3:1