A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Matthew 8:2

Sometimes when we pray, we sound like a little kid at Walmart. In the food aisles, “Mom, I’m hungry, please can I have some fruit snacks.” Or more subtly in the toy section, “Mom, you know that my bike is broken; I sure wish I could ride it.”  And then there’s the checkout line, “I’m so hungry. Can I please have a candy bar? I really need some more Chapstick!” If you’re a parent and have ever taken your child to the store, you know the feeling. We get this way with God, too, in our prayer life. “I’m really struggling at work, please help lighten my load. I know you see the pain this illness is causing my grandfather, he could use some relief. Lord, I really need some help down here.” The creator of the universe listens as we pummel Him with request after request. Only, He doesn’t get annoyed like we tend to do at the store with our kids, resisting the urge to scream out, “Will you just stop asking!” Instead God gives us His Word in the Bible teaching us the right way to behave in prayer. In Matthew, we see the first example in a man with leprosy. He desperately wants to be healed. But instead of dropping to his knees, clinging to Jesus’s legs, and wailing, “Oh Lord, please heal me and end my suffering!”, he simply says, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean” (Matthew 8:2). First, he honors the Lord by recognizing His power to heal. He doesn’t demand or even ask to be healed; instead, he submits to God’s will knowing that healing may not be in His plan. When our prayer life mimics this leper’s prayer, suddenly, the kid at the store has become a respectful and obedient child. Honor and submission are the focus instead of request and desires. Prayer that pleases the Lord and helps us focus on what’s truly important. No more requests for trivial or outlandish things, no more begging and pleading like a whiny child.  These are replaced by prayers centered around God’s plan for our lives and submission to His will; prayers focused on bringing glory to the Lord.

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