It is easy to be critical of prayer, particularly the prayers of others. Robert Murray McCheyne’s words are often cited because they remain painfully true: “You wish to humble a man? Ask him about his prayer life.”
Our prayers reveal much about us. Prayers with little or no worship and focusing on our needs (usually health) reveal a distorted, Adamic bent. What they reveal is self-centeredness, what Martin Luther labeled homo in se incurvatus: “man curved in on himself.” Listen to prayers at the church prayer meeting (if one still exists). You will discover that the majority of prayers are “organ recitals”—prayers for someone’s liver, kidney, or heart. Not that we shouldn’t pray for medical issues, but a preoccupation with health is itself a reflection of how little we understand why it is we desire good health. We desire it so that the person we are praying for lives for Jesus Christ.