I have heard some daft ideas in my time, but there was one which I came across years and years ago which has stuck in my mind ever since I first heard it. It wasn’t so much an idea, as a theory of life and I think it is also used to show the importance of logic in an argument.
The theory states that I am the only person in the world. No one else exists, just me. That is when the argument starts, because you chip in with the comment that you are there too, so I am wrong. Ah, but you are only there as part of my imagination. I am making you say that you are there. You’re not really, it’s just that I, the only person in the world, enjoy an argument every now an then. I think one of the retorts is for you to say to me that I am right, but only partially, because in fact you are the only person in the world, that I am a figment of your imagination, and that everything I say is being directed by you. And so it goes on. After a while everyone in the discussion starts to see lights, blue lights, and some guy who doesn’t exist starts quoting the Mental Health Act and asks you to try on this nice jacket…
Like I say, it’s daft, but it does show how we sometimes look at our place in the world. We can be so selfish, so self-centred. There are almost 7 billion people in this world. I am just one of them, so are you. Just one. Yet I think I am so important. I have to be right at the centre of everything, and I can sometimes get a bit miffed if I am not. But it is like the game Piggy in the Middle. Yes, I might be the centre, but I don’t have the ball. That is the whole point! Everyone else is in the game, they need to be, or there would be no game. I need them to be there, and they need to be involved, or I will never stand a chance of getting the ball. And when I get the ball, I need them to be there to be able to keep playing the game, otherwise I am just standing on my own with a ball!
But so often I don’t see that. Even in my prayers I don’t see it. I am praying, asking, asking, asking. Am I doing it for the right reason? Why do I get upset when the prayer isn’t answered? Why do I feel important when it does get answered? Am I really being selfless when I pray? Am I working for God, or is he working for me? Is the spotlight on me, or on him?
Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone.
I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them.’ Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. (Ezek 36:22-23, NIV)
That’s the thing I have to remember. When God answers my prayers it isn’t for me or my glory, it is for his! He answers them, not because of what I do, but in spite of what I have done! He answers them so that the whole world will know that he is Lord! He is not answering them to give me a reward – he is answering them to give me a message to deliver.
That should change the way I pray.