Prayer. Awhile back I saw a question asked somewhere (forget where) about prayer. It was something like this:
If you found out that every prayer you have prayed for the last 6 months would be answered…Would the whole world be a better place, or would only your immediate life be better?
It is natural to pray about our own needs and those immediate to us, but our prayers should encompass more than that too. It is true that we can’t pray for everyone and everything in the world, but perhaps we need to broaden our prayers some? Perhaps our prayers are a bit self-focused?
I further thought of this question:
If you found out that every prayer you have prayed for the last 6 months would be answered…Would the answers be entirely/mostly physical in nature – health, employment, travel safety? Or would the answers be spiritual in nature too – people trusting Christ as Savior, spiritual growth, prodigals returning to faith, God’s kingdom really breaking through into this world? Perhaps our prayers are neglectful of the spiritual?
This past post may interest you: Can we please stop praying for sick people?
After that post, someone left this comment:
“I so get what you’re saying here, Laura. I was at a church for five years where almost all prayer requests were for sick members of the congregation (as well as their close and distant friends and relatives.) I was dismayed that the wonderful, powerful privilege of prayer was not being used for loftier purposes: spiritual and eternal purposes.”
Don’t misunderstand the point. We should pray for the sick and physical needs, but not exclusively. We can be so accustomed to the status quo that we fail to take notice. The next time you are with a group of Christians in your Sunday school class, small group, or Bible study – take note of the prayer requests.
If the requests are only about physical needs (and only about our immediate lives), I would not suggest you judge or criticize – But perhaps the group can be gently encouraged to expand what they pray about. I share a couple of ideas in the linked post, such as using Scripture as a guide.
This is such an important concept. Often “church folk” have a very immature view of prayer. It’s rooted in poor discipleship. We learn to pray like kids as kids. But we never learn to pray like adults – we keep praying for childish, temporary things and we use prayer as a “wish list” instead of a conversation with God. We have the opportunity for Jesus to disciple us in life, and we treat him like Santa instead.
Challenging thoughts – thanks for sharing them! That could be another worthwhile post, expanding upon the “mis-use” of prayer – God is like Santa. Gimme.
I think I first heard it in a book called “Don’t check your brains at the door” or something. Thinking of God like a cosmic cop that we have to be afraid of us unhealthy; but also thinking of him as a vending machine Santa that we ask for whatever petty thing we want and then feel entitled to receive it is just as dangerous!
Brandon Adams said:
My prayers would be for both, I’m grateful to say. But it’s been a bit of a journey to get there.
Great to hear Brandon!
Matteo Mortelliti said:
You’re asking great questions. Perhaps it’s a sign of health and growth when one begins to pray for others and not just themselves. Lately I’ve been reflecting on how Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies, and those who persecute us. I’m starting to think he had something unique in mind, which is that when we practice praying for others (especially our enemies) we’re drawn into a new way seeing things. I’ve written about it here, would love your thoughts: http://www.mirrordimlyblog.com/reflection/whats-point-prayer/
Thanks for your comment Matteo, and I read your post too. Several years ago, I was trying to pray some aspect of my Bible reading every day. And when I read pray for your enemies, a person that I was really peeved at came to my mind. I did not want to pray for them!! But forced myself too. It softened my view of them, and did give me new perspective.
Reblogged this on Rogue Millennials and commented:
We Rogues often look around at churches and ask, “Is this all we’ve become? Aren’t we destined for so much more?” Enjoy this great article from Laura at “Enough Light” on how prayer should be so much more than we tend to use it for as well.
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