Praying a God-Centered Prayer
“It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat. 2 Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar” (which is En Gedi). 3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 20:1-5
In the opening verses of 2 Chronicles 20, the people of Judah faced a grave threat. No less than three different groups of people had conspired together in an attempt to defeat the kingdom of Judah. The situation was bleak. As a nation who had a deep spiritual history, one would expect their leader, King Jehoshaphat, to petition God and ask for military success against overwhelming odds.
When facing great adversity we must tell God all about it – right? Well that isn’t King Jehoshaphat’s idea of prayer. Beginning in verse 6, the king uses the words, “You” or “Yours” no less than 18 times! Think about that, he doesn’t even mention the conspiracy of the enemies of Israel until verse 10. His prayer is God-centered, not problem-centered.
He starts out with praise saying He (the LORD) is the God of the universe and how He rules over all the kingdoms of the earth. Of course, this means King Jehoshaphat knows God is sovereign over him! He says “in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?” The king knew, God was in control and further, he knew his prayer had to be centered on the God of the heavens.
I find this so foreign to my way of praying and quite frankly, I have very rarely heard people pray like Jehoshaphat. I think I am correct when I say most of our prayers are a laundry list of things we are handing to God. If there is an especially difficult or scary situation facing us, we bring that up issue first and foremost in our prayers.
Praying a God-centered prayer is different. A God-centered prayer is one where He is the main subject. He is acknowledged as being supreme and His might and power are all encompassing. He is my primary focus and I must concentrate on Him and not on my problem.
When I pray a problem-centered prayer, it is not Him that is the focus, but my problem. In fact, I would make the claim a problem-centered prayer in many ways puts me the center. After all, often the problem or adversity I want God to address is something I’d like fixed or resolved so that my life will be better. It easily becomes about me.
Of course this isn’t to say we aren’t supposed to bring our petitions to God. We are, but we must do it in a God-centered way, not in a problem-centered way.
I find this exercise much harder to do than one would initially think. Most of us have prayed problem-centered prayers for so long and that it is all we know. But try it. When you are praying about a problem or wrestling with an issue, turn your prayers around and see if you can begin your prayer like King Jehoshaphat, mentioning God early and often before bringing up the situation that has driven you to your knees.
Prayer is a relationship and God isn’t Santa Claus. Pray God-centered prayers and see if He doesn’t do some amazing things in your life.
Blessings my Friends!