Disney’s “Aladdin” creatively portrays the love story between a poor and low-class boy and a princess. Much of the entertainment value of the movie comes through the interaction with the “Genie of the Lamp” that grants three wishes, thus opening the door for this low-class boy to role-play the life of a wealthy prince.
Whether you prefer the Robin Williams version or the Will Smith version is irrelevant. In fact, this story could also symbolize the way many view their relationship with God and the role of prayer.
For many, prayer is equivalent to expressing wishes to a genie, and if all the rules are followed properly, then God may grant our wish and give us what we want. While we may never boldly confess this perspective, when one evaluates the dominant nature of their prayers, they may realize how selfish and brash their requests are.
Certainly God desires us to make our requests known and to petition Him, according to Philippians 4:6. Surely He is willing to give us the desires of our heart, as we read in Psalm 37:4. However, viewing God as a genie is a shallow, immature, and self-centered view of the Almighty Creator of the world. Similarly, viewing prayer as a wish-making venture is a short-sided perspective on the beauty of communing with God.
Beginning in Genesis 1-2, we understand that God has invited humanity into a relationship and desires to walk and talk with Him. Recognize that same God who walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden each day genuinely desires a similar level of intimacy with you! While God is just and supreme above all, His nature is to be personally involved with His creation at an intimate level.
It is the beauty of prayer that we can talk with Him, listen to Him, spend quality time with Him, rest in His presence, experience His glory, and recognize His greatness. This is not a matter of mystical mantra or recited ritual, but rather a pursuit of the Father.
Thankfully, Jesus taught us to pray through the model prayer found in Matthew 6:5-13, which is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer.” Consider a commitment to learn from His example and exercise the discipline of a daily pursuit that leads to a healthy relationship and biblical perspective of God.