When we feel wronged, we want to know that someone witnessed the injustice. We want to feel consolation and maybe even justification. We might ask God to change someone’s way of thinking because we think it’s incorrect. And yet we are not God, nor do we know His will.
We do not know the journey and timing of another. We don’t even know the journey or timing for own lives most of the time.
Do We Have Secret Prayer Motives?
As we grow deeper in faith, we may notice that not all prayers are true prayers. Some have more to do with our own wants and needs than with loving our neighbor. For example, when we pray for the homeless man on the corner, is it because we genuinely care for his well-being, or do we feel repulsed by the “messiness” we see there?
Are we praying for someone genuinely, or are we praying for something to happen so we can feel more comfortable in our own lives?
Going deeper, some of us could even pray against others. Do we sometimes pray that others will fail so we can succeed? Do we pray that something doesn’t work out for someone because it could hurt (or threaten) us in some way?
Let’s get honest… these don’t sound like good prayer motives. God knows secret prayer motives before their prayed. They often first begin as thoughts, and they aren’t thoughts coming from Him.
Positive Prayer Reflections
We all have blind spots, so if any of this sounds familiar, we can reflect on these checkpoints before prayer:
1. The second most important commandment is “love your neighbor as yourself” (the first is to love God). If we switch places with the one we’re praying for, would it still be a loving gesture? Genuine prayers have love at the center.
2. The good that works through us comes from God. The evil that works from us comes from evil. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” When we start praying against others, we are being fooled by the delusion of evil.
3. The Prayer of Saint Francis reminds us that it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.