Selfish prayer is the act of praying for self and loved ones without regard for anyone or anything else. Unfortunately, it is extremely easy to get caught up in the routine of praying for our daily needs, and the protection or well-being of our family members.
As we get caught up in this routine, prayer for others becomes less or nonexistent. This leads to selfish prayer, where we miss opportunities to stand in the gap for others, as we should. The Lord looks for saints who will pray his will upon the earth.
Ezekiel 22:30 states, “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me…” The act of selfish prayer hinders us from doing the will of God.
Allow me to share how I came to recognize my own selfish praying. On Christmas night, I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray. The restlessness and agitation that usually accompanies my prompting hit me full force and I began to pray feverishly for my loved ones. The next day, my family and I awoke to snow packed roads. I thanked God for prompting me to pray for our safety, as we commuted back to our respective homes.
A few days later, the world news of the South Asian earthquake and tsunami that occurred the day after Christmas was becoming increasingly tragic. The amount of people counted or presumed dead was steadily rising. Nations around the world were banding together to provide prayer for Asia and pooling resources needed for their survival. I could not help but wonder if anyone had prayed for Southern Asia before the tsunami.
The Holy Spirit immediately informed me that there were people who had prayed, and there were people He had prompted to pray, whom had not. He reminded me of His prompting on Christmas, a few days earlier. Shocked and in denial, I tried to rationalize away the truth.
I adamantly declared that the prompting I had received Christmas night was for the protection of my family, not Southern Asia. The Holy Spirit was silent as I scrambled my thoughts, and began to check the facts. With regret, I realized my prompting to pray Christmas night would have coincided with the time of the earthquake in the Indian Ocean and the tsunami that followed.
As the conviction settled heavily on my heart, I asked God how I could have known to pray for a nation so far away. I stood silent and listened to the Holy Spirit as He answered me. Here is a little of what He said:
You are constantly praying for yourself, family, and friends. Your loved ones are covered! I need you to stop being selfish, and start thinking about my people who are hurting all over the world. I have commanded you to pray for them, yet you rarely do. When I prompt you to pray, I need you to listen to me and not go into your selfish prayer routine. I need you to pray from the heart, even for people you do not know.
What a horrible way to learn about selfish prayer! I encourage you to honestly evaluate your own prayer life. As a whole, do you find yourself praying more for self and less for others? I know some of you may believe the common misconception that consistently praying for others is only for those with the spiritual gift of intercession. However, I want to challenge this fallacy.
We are all called to work for the Kingdom of God. Your spiritual gift is your area of “specialty.” It is not meant to block you from serving God in other areas. For example, if questioned about your belief in God, would you deny explaining salvation simply because your spiritual gift was not “evangelism.” Of course, you would not! The thought seems absurd, right? However, this way of thinking is commonly used and allows the enemy to hinder our work for God.
The Word commands us to pray for everyone. In 1 Timothy 2:1 it states, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving thanks, be made for all men,” not only ourselves. So, let us all pray unselfishly and without ceasing according to the will of God.