Improving Our Approach to Prayer and to God
Psalm 34.15 states that “the eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry.” Let us consider that idea.
Prayer can be utilized for a variety of functions in our address to God. We can simply praise Him, confess sins and struggles to Him, express our joys and thanksgiving to Him, or ask Him for things such as spiritual strength or encouragement.
There is a thread that stems through all of these items; it contains the ideas of communication, interaction, fostering a relationship, etc. Prayer is a privilege we possess in which we can speak to the Creator of the universe, and He hears us (Psalm 34.15-18; 1 John 5.14).
So, prayer is our opportunity to interact with God. I know I do not appreciate this privilege as much as I should; and I have heard similar remarks from other brothers and sisters. It is something that I have improved on but still fall very short at times. We can all grow to be more prayerful; it is one of the best blessings God has given us, let us not waste it. I would like us to consider man’s first recorded interaction with God in Genesis 3 and how he communicated with the Lord. Of course, his interaction is different from ours; however, he is still communicating with the Lord, which is what we do in our times of prayer.
I would like to point out three things Adam is found not doing (that we most likely do not do at times as well) and see how we can improve ourselves and our prayer lives by doing the actions he was not.
First, Adam is NOT SEEKING GOD. In the first section of Genesis 3, the serpent deceived Eve to eat the forbidden fruit and she gave it to Adam as well. Their eyes are opened, they recognize their nakedness, and they make coverings for themselves (Genesis 3.7). In verse 8, they hear the LORD and become afraid and hide. They have sinned and cut themselves off from the Lord, yet they are not trying to reconcile to God. Rather, they are hiding in their sin and in darkness. In verse 9, it is the LORD who is seeking them! God is always willing to forgive and lavish His grace on man; He’s always near. That is not to say there are not any consequences for the sin that was committed; however, the relationship with God can be restored through true penitence, faithful obedience, and God’s grace and mercy. God is there waiting for man, with “His ears open”, but man must come to Him out of darkness and into the Light!
When we sin or are found struggling with something, are we seeking God or other things? It can be a lot easier to speak to God in times of joy or thanksgiving, but it can be more difficult in our times of weakness, grief, or disobedience. I would imagine Adam had no trouble speaking to God when naming the animals or right after Eve was created; however, in his lowest, darkest points, he did not seek God but in fact, hid from Him. Do we not do the same thing at times? Consider Job’s statement in Job 2.10: “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”
Adam was not seeking the Lord in his time of need. He was hiding from the Lord, the very one who could help. We must not forget the Lord in good times or in difficult times; but instead we must always be seeking Him and getting to know Him through His words and through our prayers!
Second, Adam is NOT TAKING THE BLAME FOR HIS SIN. Once confronted, Adam blames the woman whom “[God] gave” to him, instead of taking the blame himself (Genesis 3.12). Instead of acknowledging that he had messed up and done wrong, Adam attempts to shift the blame to Eve and even to God. Adam does not admit guilt, even though he was the culprit in the wrongdoing.
We cannot make excuses for our sins; if we sin, we need to simply confess that to God, ask for forgiveness and try to be more like God and not sin. We cannot blame others for our sins. In Psalm 51.4, David explicitly says, “I have sinned.” That should be the attitude. Of course, other people in this world will be held accountable for their discouraging or evil actions, but we have our own responsibility to be faithful to doing God’s will. Also, we certainly cannot blame God for our sins! (James 1.13ff). When we do fall short, we must admit our sins and faults to God and ask for forgiveness; we cannot blame God or anyone else!
Finally, Adam is NOT RECOGNIZING HIS NEED FOR GOD. Adam sees there is a problem. In verse 7, they realize they are naked and make an attempt to cover themselves. But that is part of the problem: Adam tries to fix the problem himself. Adam tried to cover their nakedness literally and spiritually, but it is only the Lord who can do that. Adam did not acknowledge the extent of the problem, that is, he did not recognize the true separation he had created between himself and God. Isaiah 59.2 states that “[our] iniquities have made a separation between [us] and God.” Adam is not the one who could bridge that gap; but it was God. We can see that toward the end of the chapter, as God is the one who covers them literally with garments in verse 21. God is the reconciler.
We cannot cover our sins. We cannot go through life without God. We must have Him in our lives. Just as Adam could not cover himself or his sins through his own means, we cannot either. We need God and the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Jesus proves to be the ultimate “covering” for all of man’s sin and rebellion. We needed that. We were sinful, wicked, and evil. Yet God saw us and loved us, even in that state. We must recognize our need for God. We must continually strive to grow closer to God and to be more like God. Certainly, those are aspects that we can pray about for ourselves and for others. We need God and along with that, we need to be speaking to Him in prayer!
Hopefully these thoughts help us to be more mindful of the privilege of prayer and our relationship with God. Let us be continually seeking the Lord, truly confessing when we need forgiveness, and recognizing our need for the Lord and His provisions.