Have you ever prayed for what you want rather than what you need? Sure you have. We all have. We don’t always know the difference until life teaches us the difference. Jon Allen once wrote about his experience with prayer:
“After our family grew from one child to three, we realized that we were going to have to add on to our house or move. One day, I was driving past a new housing area and I saw it. The perfect house! I drove in and checked it out. I won’t bother you with the details, but it would meet all our needs. I raced home to bring Diane to see it. As I drove along I prayed, ‘Dear God, I really want that house. Puleeeeeeze let me have that house.’ Diane agreed it might be okay, and to make a long story short, we sold our house and prepared to move into the new house.
“We’d never owned a new house before. I thought they just gave you the key and you moved in. Wrong! We had to buy mini-blinds and wall paper and drapes and sprinklers and landscaping, etc., etc. We bought blank checks by the crate. We called it our ‘Dream House’ because it cost more than we ever dreamed. Finally we moved in.
“Well, we were there about three weeks and we made a discovery. Only a mile to the north was the county land fill. One mile to the south was the sewer treatment plant, and five blocks to the west was a huge dairy. The good news was we could always tell which way the wind was blowing.
“One day as I drove down the street, I asked, ‘God, why did You make us buy this sorry house?’ The only thing worse than not getting what one prays for is getting what one prays for.”
There is a reason the Scripture encourages us to pray in Jesus’ name. It’s not because there is some magical attachment to a phrase or name; it’s because we should ask for things the way Jesus might ask for things. If it’s all about our pleasure or comfort, we might be missing what we really need to obtain what we might only want.