What is prayer? And why doesn’t selfish prayer work? I was taught that prayer is supposed to be an unselfish action of humility that grants us access to God, to something greater. It can open up a telephone line between me and Power. When I’m engaged in selfish thought, word or action, I am shut off from any connection to God. That is why selfish prayer doesn’t work. We cannot reach or connect to God when engaged in selfishness.
Early in recovery, sure I prayed for myself. But it wasn’t for cars, money, or a promotion. It was for the willingness to walk through a fear I was having, or the patience to make an amends to someone difficult, or the power to walk through my exhaustion and get myself to work. I had to pray for these things to 1) get better, and 2) to become more useful to God and to others.
But as we continue to grow up and get better, we learn to pray unselfishly. Generally, unselfish prayer isn’t directed toward self anymore. We start praying for others. We pray for others to have joy, peace, happiness, love, courage, strength, prosperity, and God in their lives. Sure I sometimes do this for selfish reasons. I pray for someone whom I resent to have everything I want for myself. I do this to relieve me of the resentment, and that of course, is selfish. But ridding ourselves of resentment is also unselfish in the sense that it cleans us and allows to us then be more useful.
I still need to pray for myself at times. I pray for help being more honest, more tolerant, more willing to grow spiritually. I pray to become a better man. But you should be able to feel it in your gut if your prayer is purely selfish and therefore wrong. If we find ourselves praying for something to feed our ego or pride, we should feel that it is wrong. And we should feel shut off from Spirit. When we pray unselfishly, there is an immediate internal shift. Sure it may be subtle, but we should feel a quietness, a calmness, a humility, a connection. We have officially tapped in.
God, teach me how to pray unselfishly…