Oswald Chambers once said, “When we no longer seek God for His blessings, we have time to seek Him for Himself.” Seeking God for Himself was something Chambers was passionate about. He spoke often about the error of looking to God as a “blessing-machine.” He understood that the important part isn’t what we “get” from God, but that we truly “get” Him (understand Him and His divine nature).
Why do you seek Him?
Do you have children, grandchildren, or other extended family members who only come around when their finances are in a tangle, or when their birthday or Christmas approaches? If so, you understand how our heavenly Father must feel when we come near only to get something from Him. To truly appreciate God, each of us must learn to seek Him for who He is, not for what He can do.
If you’ve fallen deeply in love with someone, you know what it’s like to crave being with that person. You don’t show up for a date just to get a free dinner, a kiss, or a new bauble. When you’re genuinely in love, what you want most is to be together. Any gifts you give or receive are an expression, or an outflow of that love.
When was the last time you simply sat with God under His cool shade?
Like an apple tree among the trees of the forestSong of Solomon 2:3-4
is my beloved among the young men.
I delight to sit in his shade,
and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
He has brought me to the house of wine,
and his banner over me is love.
The real purpose of prayer
Like any parent, God wants you to want to be with Him, not because you need something, but because you enjoy Him as a Father, Creator, Friend, and the Lover of your soul. Perhaps you think, “I do spend time alone with God, and the only time I ask for things is when I pray.” Oswald Chambers had a thought about that too, ”We look upon prayer simply as a means of getting things for ourselves, but the biblical purpose of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.”
Matthew 7:7-8* says, “Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you.” As His children, we do that. We ask. We knock. We wait. But that section of Scripture doesn’t end with the simple instruction to ask.
Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!Matthew 7:9-11*
As we ask, wait, knock, and wait some more, our true thoughts about the nature of the Giver are revealed. Do we really believe God is good? Can we trust Him to give according to His nature and timing? If we ask for bread, will He give us a stone? By asking, we learn a lot about ourselves; and hopefully, much more about our generous and gracious Father.
Shelve your requests
Has it been a while since you sought God for Himself? If so, put your requests on the shelf. Take some time to simply sit under His shade and taste the fruit of His love. When you no longer seek God for His blessings, you’ll have time to seek Him for Himself.
As long as we get from God everything we ask for, we never get to know Him, we look upon Him as a blessing-machine that has nothing to do with God’s character or with our characters. “Your father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.” Then why pray? To get to know your Father. It is not sufficient for us to say, ‘Oh yes, God is love,’ we have to know He is love, we have to struggle through until we do see He is love and justice, then our prayer is answered.Oswald Chambers
Learn more about Oswald Chambers
Though he died in his early 40s (in 1917), Oswald Chambers’ work lives on. His widow (affectionately known as Biddy) took his sermons and writings and created one of the best devotional books you’ll ever find, My Utmost for His Highest. If you’re interested, I recommend reading it in the updated language edition.
*Amplified Bible Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved www.lockman.org