“Let those who boast boast in this,
that they understand and know me,
that I am the LORD;
I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth,
for in these things I delight, says the LORD.”
Love and Justice
Prayer can never depart far from the character of God without ceasing to be prayer. Prayer that is not about steadfast love, justice and righteousness is not prayer but magical thinking. It is children who believe that catching parents in a good mood is the secret to getting their desires fulfilled. It is children who believe that buttering up parents by good behavior or gracious words is the key to obtaining favors. It is children who believe that making a scene can serve to win their wishes. It is want and demand and greed and self, not prayer.
We are most successful in our requests as children when we understand who are parents are and what they value – and ask for things in keeping with those values. Mom would never buy me a BB gun, not matter how much I wheedled and nagged, but she would buy me a guitar. And she would have bought me piano lessons had I asked; she valued music.
What does God value? Those are the things to seek. If God is a God who delights in love, justice and righteousness, these should be our prayer. Compassion, generosity, truth, courage, hope, mercy, patience, endurance, sacrifice – these are the things we should ask for God to quicken in us. These are the things we should ask for God to quicken in the world – for these are the things we find in God, and these are things we are taught to seek in the prayer Jesus gave us.