“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Getting Beyond Giving, by Randall D. Kittle

The Christmas season in America is big business. The month from Black Friday to Christmas is crucial for the U.S. economy. It produces around 30 percent of all annual retail sales. Nearly 1/3 of the sales for the year occur in this one month.

Perhaps this is why before we can even take the Thanksgiving turkey out of the oven we’ve been inundated with hundreds of sales flyers, television ads, and a constant bombardment of email offers and internet ads hyping up every store’s super, unbeatable, “limited-time” sale!

The goal of this advertising onslaught is more than helping us save some money and give us a “leg up” on our holiday shopping. It’s designed to subtly work into our hearts the desire to get everything
we want for Christmas. With the relentlessly repeating flood of “must have” gift ideas, it’s not long until most Americans “get the gimmes.” Underneath it all, “getting” seems to be the underlying focus of the holiday season in America. Everyone is making a list (and perhaps checking it more than twice), but too often the list is our wish list … what we want to get.

The Getting of Prayer
Unfortunately, the same thing is true in too many of our spiritual lives as well. This “gimme” problem can be seen in much of the American church in regards to our prayer-life. Too much of what we call “prayer” in America is more like a child bringing their Christmas list to Santa. Listen to A. W. Tozer’s diagnosis of the problem many born-again believers suffer from in their prayer-life:
“Prayer among evangelical Christians is always in danger of degenerating into a glorified ‘gold rush.’ Almost every book on prayer deals mainly with the ‘get’ element. How to get things we want from God occupies most of the space.”

“Now, we gladly admit that we may ask for and receive specific gifts and benefits in answer to prayer, but we must never forget that the highest kind of prayer is never the making of requests. Prayer, at its holiest moment, is the entering into God to a place of such blessed union as makes miracles seem tame and remarkable answers to prayer appear something very far short of wonderful by comparison.”

Getting Beyond Getting
Too much of what most American Christians call “prayer” is covered by James 4:3,
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” Prayer must get beyond presenting God with a shopping list of things we would like Him to do for us. True prayer is about sharing our hearts with God and drawing closer to Him.

The primary purpose of prayer is to nurture a close, personal relationship with the Lord by sharing our heart with Him and have a heart that listens for His every whisper. E. M. Bounds put it this way,
“The place of revealing and of equipment, of grace and of power, is the prayer-chamber, and as we meet there with God we shall not only win our triumphs but we shall also grow in the likeness of our Lord and become His living witnesses to men. … rooted in the secret place where God meets and walks and talks with His own, the Christian life grows into such a testimony of Divine power that all men will feel its influence and be touched by the warmth of its love. Thus, resembling our Lord and Master, we shall be used for the glory of God and the salvation of our fellow men.”

The true purpose of prayer is not so much to transform our circumstances or alter the expected outcome of an event as it is to bring us into a closer, more personal relationship with the living God. The result of this will be that we will be transformed more fully into the image of Christ! It is during our times of intimate encounter with God that we find Romans 8:29 being fulfilled in our lives, for it is out of our deepening relationship with Him, established and developed in our times of prayer, that we will be
“conformed to the image of His Son.” What greater gift could we ever receive?

Lord, forgive us for any way and every way we have put the focus of our prayer-time on the things we want instead of getting to know You more. In this season and every season, help us not to lose focus of the greatest privilege of prayer — spending time with You and growing in your likeness. Let us be careful our prayer-life is about getting to know the Lord and being conformed to His image not just getting things from Him

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