Do you pray because you hunger for God? Or do you want what you are praying for more than you want God? I recently heard someone tell about being so desperate for something she wanted, that she spent days hunting for things she was doing wrong to repent of so God would answer her prayer. And she said God did answer.
Do you hear the theology behind that? The notion that we need to get as right with God as possible so he will give us what we really want is not Christian. It is typical religion. You can find this thinking in every religion and cult group. Pharisees would have wholeheartedly endorsed this theology. But Jesus did not teach this kind of devotion. He taught some things that might be mistaken for it. He taught us to pray for what we want and need because He loves us. And He certainly taught repentance because we need it.
But we are to be devoted to God because we love Him. We should be willing to give up what we want in order to draw nearer to our Lord, rather than trying to draw nearer to God, so He will give us what we really want.
Suppose you passed on and left an inheritance for your daughter. And she fell in love and got married. Shortly after they were married her husband discovered he couldn't get his hands on the inheritance. And he told her plainly he was leaving because he really didn't love her, he only wanted her money. Would she feel used? How would you feel in that situation?
I made one of the most important commitments of my entire life as a young person at youth camp. Several years later at the same camp a friend asked me to come off alone with him because he needed to get right with God. One of the first things he told me was if he came home from camp without making a decision for Christ, his dad wouldn't let him get his driver’s permit. Would it surprise you that that his decision didn't make any difference in his life that next year?
How might it change your prayer life if you prayed because you needed God and wanted Him more than you wanted to be healed, or needed help in trouble, or whatever you want God to give you?