“The wish to pray is a prayer in itself.”– Georges Bernanos.
I am sitting in our hotel in Venice, thinking of you all as I write this post. The answer to this one is particularly poignant for me. Tim Keller has been fighting Stage 4 cancer of the pancreas since May 2020. His progress has been incredible, given that such a diagnosis is particularly concerning. He had been doing well until new tumors cropped up recently. The Christian Post published Tim Keller shares cancer update, says new tumors have developed.
“I will shortly be returning to the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD in order to spend April doing a variation of the immunotherapy that I received last June,” writes Keller,
…Last year’s immunotherapy “was successful in eradicating 99% of the tumors,” he writes. “However, new tumors have developed. They are unfortunately in some fairly inconvenient places, so the doctors encouraged us to go through the treatment again, this time targeting a different genetic marker of the cancer.
My focus is on the following.
While it was successful last year, it was “fairly brutal,” Keller shares.
“… So we approach this with an awareness of how much prayer we need,” he tells his “praying friends.”
“Please pray for our trust and dependence on God, for his providential oversight of the medical preparations now in process, and for our desire to glorify God in whatever comes our way. Thank You.”
I am so sorry that Keller is struggling with this awful disease, and I did pray for him. Keller is fortunate to be in such a great facility that can give him blue-chip, state-of-the-art care. I am sure that thousands, if not millions, have prayed for him, and I know that is reassuring to him.
After I read this article, I got thinking about a question. Does God respond more to the prayers of thousands/millions than he does to the prayers of the few? It is something I thought about years ago, and my experience led me to believe that God cares as much about the prayers of the solitary person as He does the prayers of millions.
My husband and I were new to Dallas when our 3-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. The prognosis was poor. My husband had become friends with an older doctor who stopped by our waiting area while she was in surgery. Unbeknownst to us, his little grandson was being operated on at the same time in the same hospital for a Wilm’s tumor, which has a far better prognosis. This family was well known in Dallas, and they had an incredible number of folks praying for them.
I remember thinking about how few people knew us in Dallas and that those who prayed for us were far fewer. I was seven months pregnant and was afraid as I faced the possibility of losing my daughter. Of course, I had my husband, but he and I both felt lonely. I remember thinking the following.
Does God hear the few prayers of a lonely, scared mother as much as He hears the prayers of the thousand?
This is hard to say, but I also recall being a bit jealous that the other child had so many praying for him. Did this mean I believed that he would do better because of those prayers? I would think about this often in the years to come. Yet, that dear little boy was found to have a more serious disease and died some short months later. After many years, we discovered that our daughter would unexpectedly survive her cancer with virtually no deficits. She went on to be a pediatric critical care nurse.
I have long struggled over the meaning of prayer. Does God respond more to the prayers of millions who want a particular president to become victorious than He does to the prayer of the boy who is being bullied at school or the prayers of the teen girl whose pastor abused her?
I have watched people breathlessly run around a church asking lots of folks for prayers for an upcoming test or a friend’s hip surgery. This raises many questions.
- How many people must pray in order for a particular prayer to be effective? Does one need 5 or 5,000?
- Is it possible that a man running around asking for prayer is saying, “I’m scared and don’t know how to deal with this?”
- Will God still heal someone who knows they should pray but is too upset to pray?
- What exactly is a prayer warrior? How much time each day do they spend in prayer? Do they get answers while the person who struggles to pray doesn’t?
- How much time is the right amount of time to pray?
- What is the purpose of prayer? I’ve heard that prayer is to change you, not God. Is this true?
- If prayer is meant to change you, why must a mother get many people praying for her daughter to make the cheerleading team? Do you think it will change those who pray for her cheerleading prowess?
- Is it possible that it is easier to say, “I’ll be praying for you,” than to say, “Hey, let’s have coffee and talk?”
- Does it seem God cares more about others than He does about you? Why?
- How often do you forget to pray when asked to pray? Do you think your prayer would have changed the outcome? Do you feel guilty about it?
- What do you do when you feel God didn’t answer your prayer?
I still struggle to pray, although I feel closer to God when I do. I tried keeping a prayer journal, but I wrote down so many people and so much to pray for that it got overwhelming. So, could you help me? If you pray regularly, tell me how you do this. Who do you pray for, and do you have a system for doing so?
I am interested in this and plan to read carefully what you have to say. Perhaps, you can tell that I see God as I look at the pictures of the universe that I put in these posts. What inspires you to think about God?
But, thoses kinds of questions get you “in trouble” with many types of people….
Your question made me think of this story:
2 Kings 6:15-17
 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”  He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
I suspect prayer is sort of like this. The saints and angels in heaven are praying, too, as is Jesus himself. Perhaps they throw their weight toward the prayers of the most isolated and troubled. We know that God doesn’t operate according to the world’s expectations.
I know I want to say something, but I don’t even know where to start. Tried to start this several ways and none of them felt right.
Prayer, to me, is one of the most simple acts a human creature can do in relationship the the Creator.
But at the same time, the depths and magnitude of prayer are endless. Because God is Endless.
I know, I sound crazy already. And I apologize for that.
But I think a lot of us who have been doing this Christian thing for a while are getting tired of the clichés that surround both God and our means of communicating with Him.
Saw a sign at a church that said, “Prayer changes things.” All I could think of was, actually, God changes things. Prayer is the simple means that God has given us that puts us in contact with Him so we can know better how to cooperate with Him on this earth.
Barely scratched the surface of my musings on this. And didn’t answer any of the questions put forth.
Mostly just expressing that there are a lot of clichés out there because there are a lot of people talking. Some of whom have no idea what they are talking about.
Just read John 4 the other day about the woman at the well.
There Jesus told her that God looks for those who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. Worship is only one form of the many types of prayer.
But I’m pretty sure whatever type of prayer we engage in, spirit and truth are a good place to start.
I’m rambling now so I’m going to stop and wait for other to give their thoughts. Looking forward to an iron sharpens iron conversation on this.
I live in Nashville, and after our tragedy on Monday, we are indeed a praying city. But what is the meaning of that prayer? Of course to console those who have lost loved ones. But past that, what is the role of prayer, especially after a life-shattering event?
At this point, I am not sure that I have any answers; I have more questions than answers. But one thing I do know: I feel a communion and kinship with everyone else who is praying.
That within itself is comforting . . .
Dee, I don’t know a lot about the answers to all of these questions, but it seems to me that God cares a lot more about obedience and trust than numbers of people praying. I battled a medical condition and we had just started going to a new church and I asked the pastor if they practiced anointing with oil for someone like me. He said they did and he got the elders together in a private room and lay hands on me and anointed with oil and prayed. For me, I knew what scripture said and this seemed to be a simple act of obedience. Of course I had been praying. I didn’t feel the need to work up emotions or get a whole lot of people to “storm the gates of heaven”. I knew that I had been obedient and I left the matter with him. Ultimately I was healed but even if I wasn’t I would have trusted God with that answer as well. Just my thoughts…
For so many, prayer has become a way for me to-control-my-circumstances.
That’s why the intensity of prayer, or the number of people praying becomes an issue. We imagine God to be like us, rather than taking courage from the fact that He is not like us. He is so much more. So much more loving than we can even conceive of.
OT—-Just found out that Carl Lentz, who was fired from Hillsong New York 2 years ago because of adultery, is now considered restored and has been hired by Transitions Church in Tulsa Oklahoma
Actually I saw nothing wrong with his comments. Yes, of course, God answers ALL prayers. Sometimes He says yes, sometimes wait, sometimes no. We tend not to like it when he says no.
What I read was a man facing his own mortality who appreciates all the people praying for him, no hint of suggestion that if only one or two prayed God would not move.
I especially appreciated where he basically said he prays that no matter the outcome, God will be glorified and he, Tim, will not mess up and not be a good witness.
I pray God will bless him as he goes through this again. Whatever the outcome, I pray Tim Keller receives it from the Lord with grace. If the prayers are for healing and God says no, this man has a wonderful teaching opportunity.
As to prayer “working” or not, we know that the fervent effectual prayer of the righteous availeth much. We know we sometimes have not because we ask not. We know we are to call the elders of the church together to anoint and pray for the ill.
So all that said, seems to me the protocol given by God is the more the merrier praying in desperate situations, but God is not limited in His answers by a low number praying nor does a high number praying guarantee healing.
All in all, I would hope to show the grace and maturity Tim Keller is showing.
I’m so sorry for what you are are going through.
I think this is good insight. Prayer is communion. With God and with others.
I like this as well. What prayer shouldn’t be looked upon as.
Sounds like that peace that passes understanding. And contentment in all things.
It may very well be.
Dee, wow, great questions! Here is a question of mine, does the person I ask to pray for my needs faith play a major role? Is it better to have 10 people praying for a need of average faith or 1 person who has great faith ( remember the mustard seed analogy) ?
When I was praying to the Lord to save my marriage I looked for both numbers and for certain people that I knew had a deep walk with God and were dedicated prayers. Unfortunately it didn’t work and I found myself deeply disappointed with with God for a season.
As I have grown older I have come to believe that
1) God is sovereign and He knows best.
2) That men and women have free will and God rarely kicks in the door to someone’s life. We have freedom , responsibility and consequences to our choices.
3) That the Lord loves me immensely and his ways are not mine.
Ultimately for me I have to believe that He loves me and controls my life. From the above beliefs there has to be some overlap, ie. free will and sovereignty that is a certain mystery on how it works out. I too have prayed for Tim Keller, one because he has asked for it and even humbly admitted that he is anxious ( who wouldn’t be) and two, his ministry has blessed me and many others. I have more unanswered questions than answers and Monday’s shootings create even more. I am not even sure that we will get our questions completely answered in heaven when we get there.
A couple of times when I have dared to think if this Christianity is real or fake I can’t contemplate how I could believe in anything else that would explain and make sense in why the world works like it does.
One other thing I gave I have noticed on the blogs are gun rights. I do believe in the right to bear arms, I own several but no assault rifles.
As an ex military member , we had assault rifles issued to us because they are made to kill efficiently and at a high rate, perfect for what combat soldiers do. If you are a christian would it not be a small thing to be willing to give up your right to own an assault rifle to help lower the rate of deaths caused by mass shooters? You can still enjoy the sport of shooting and even defend your family. I hear the old adage that guns don’t kill people but people kill people but can’t we make it more difficult for people who choose to kill people but eliminating assault rifle and having smaller pistol magazine? Seconds spent reloading saves lives and gives first first responders time to intervene. That to me would be a start among other gun control measures that would help.
The merciful Peace that comes into that space created by the terrible pain of grief and loss . . . I never knew that something so powerful was possible or that it COULD happen. My response is a very deep and unending thanksgiving to the Comforter.
We are ‘cared for’ even when we don’t understand, maybe even because we don’t understand.
We are not left alone to suffer alone, no.
Whatever prayer ‘is’ or ‘isn’t’, my belief is we are changed by it in healing ways.
Sursum corda: ‘lift up your hearts’
I have come to believe that prayer is something God invites us to do and it is amazing that an all-powerful Creator actually listens to us. But I also think there is wisdom in not trying to over-analyze the process and just throw your hands up to heaven and know that it is a mysyery we cannot comprehend.
I keep remembering the Prayer Warrior appeals from Christian COVID-deniers over at the Herman Cain Awards subreddit. In their social media trails just before the Homegoing Announcement and the GoFundMe for seven-figure ICR bills.
I have come to question whether the underlying premise, that it is consistently possible to bring about events “at a distance” through prayer by recruiting God to be the agent of the accomplishment of what one wants done.
Perhaps we should distinguish between “ordinary” and “extraordinary” modes of prayer. The “extraordinary” mode is familiar to us from the Scriptures — Elijah prays and fire falls from heaven, Peter prays “in Jesus’ name” and a disabled person is healed, etc., etc.
(as an aside, there is an argument to be made that Jesus’ own mighty works were wrought through prayer. The clearest hints of this are in Jn 9:30-33 and, most remarkably, the conversation in Jn 11:21-22 and Jesus’ words in 11:41-42 — which seem to have the same sense as 9:33, that the fact that the Father hears Jesus is proof that Jesus is from the Father.)
Jesus seems to promise the apostles that they will be able to consistently pray in “extraordinary mode” — “whatever you ask in my name, the Father will do”. This doesn’t seem to work in our time. Maybe we don’t know what it means to pray “in Jesus’ name”, or perhaps the promise was always limited to the early church, as a way of certifying that the apostles were sent in a way analogous to Jesus’s sent-ness from the Father (cf. Jn 20:21).
In the present time, for nearly all of us and nearly all of the time, we are limited to what might be called “ordinary mode prayer” — we ask God to establish the work of our hands, and then we work with our hands.
There’s a compelling precedent for this in the introductory chapter of the OT book Nehemiah. On hearing of the deplorable state of the defenses of Jerusalem and the condition of the few Israelites living them, Nehemiah was deeply grieved and spent a significant period of time (months) in fasting and prayer. At the end of this period, the fruit of his prayers was … a plan. He marshalled resources from a powerful patron — the King of Babylon and implemented his plan over a period of years. It was a personally costly plan, and one can see in it an echo of Jesus’ self-giving.
For Nehemiah, the efficacy of his prayers seems to have been that they moved him (or, perhaps better, God moved him in the context of his prayers) to become personally involved in discerning and implementing a solution to the problems that held his attention.
I think this is how prayer works, most of the time, in our day.
That kind of solves the question of “does it matter how many people are presenting the same petition to God?” — in short, generally it does not. What matters is whether the people’s prayers move their hearts to get them involved as actors in the solution to the problem that they want solved.
Dee, my heart goes out to you, and I have no fancy answers. As I’ve gotten older (and definitely not much wiser), it has become somewhat easier for me to lay a situation out before God. Sometimes I feel as though I’m wrestling. Other times it’s easy to pray and then let it go. I ask God for discernment how to pray.
Nevertheless, I’m increasingly finding myself looking up to God and saying, “I don’t know what to ask or pray in this situation. I have no answers. You deal with it.” And then the prayer and pleading is silenced, and I’m at peace, even with no answer. He is sovereign, I must trust that He knows what He’s doing, regardless of how I feel.
When I was growing up my church had a prayer chain. Is that still a thing anywhere? It was so analog, maybe social media has swept it away.
At the risk of sounding crazier than Mara 😉
Right before I came over to drop my two cents I was sitting with my eyes shut, repeating a breath prayer and doing my best not to wonder when my ten minutes would be up.
Lately, I’ve been drawn to more contemplative and meditative forms of prayer. I was never taught this, but I desperately need to disentangle prayer from all the performative crap twisted up with it. This may not fit everyone, but for me it feels right to get grounded in my body and quietly pray a simple phrase or two.
Someday I might feel I can sincerely pray FOR things, although maybe praying ABOUT things is healthier, if that makes sense? For the moment what I have is “You’re here/I’m here.” Not asking for anything or trying to change anything. Just knowing that God is present, and sitting with that for awhile.
Thank you for sharing these examples, with Scripture, and with your insights.
Re: the practice of praying, then seeking God for a plan, and then going about the plan as directed by God, through prayer, surely this is how God works in our lives. I’ve just reread “Brother Andrew” about the Bible smuggler during the Cold War. He certainly did exactly this, AND God seems to blind the eyes of the military at the checkpoints (extraordinarily), as Andrew brought Bibles to Eastern Europe (following the plan God gave him). So, both, and.
Whenever we discount the opportunity for the extraordinary works of God in our time, however, we must remember that there are people in this world who desperately need an extraordinary work from God. I don’t care what the “prayer rules” or latest theology is about prayer. I pray for the least of the least to seek God and to have God answer them in extraordinary ways, every day.
There are prayers of desperation for desperate times and situations. We may be desperate sinners in the hands of our extraordinary God.
(And we do try to be available to be part of the answer, too, when applicable, in practical ways – instead of empty “thoughts and prayers” then walk away. Scripture warns us not to do empty “thoughts and prayers” gestures.)
It seems like the only rule is to keep praying, and listening, and obeying, but keep praying.
Scripture prayers are extremely helpful.
“My soul confides in God alone, my salvation comes from Him,” Ps. 62, comes to mind.
For now around 40 years I have lived a life of prayer that started in the sheer desperation to get out of the depressing hole I found myself in. I do prayer walks daily with few exceptions. I have a list I go over in my head. But that is just me, not a recommendation to anyone else. I will not be surprised if at the end of this life there will be a sign in my mansion in the New Jerusalem that has the total number of miles that I walked with God in this life on those prayer walks.
But you want opinions. I can think of no better opinion then what is already written for us. Everyone has an opinion and many of them contradict and as far as human reasoning goes this can easily lead to more confusion than clarity. So go back to the Word. Here is one to start:
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James, the brother of Jesus chapter 4
And one more from the next chapter: “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”
Such as this had better trump are own personal opinions or else we are simply being proud and deceived. I can think of no scripture that states that the prayers of the masses are effective, but there is this one about a righteous man (singular.)
This is a bit of a ramble.
Numbers 14 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+14&version=NIV) is an interesting story to consider, as it seems to show a time when Moses was able to persuade God to change his mind. I wouldn’t say that this goes to show we can use prayer like a magic wand to get our way, but it does give me hope that prayer is a both/and, not an either/or when it comes to whether it influences us or influences God.
Sometimes I think a person going around asking for prayer is also an implied request for support, physical or emotional or both. And I think this can be a good thing, when not overdone, just as part of relationship and community building.
Some time when my kids were two-years-old and an infant, we were at a legalistic church and I was beating myself up over my lack of a prayer life. I realized I had unrealistic expectations, and it was just as well to pray 15-seconds 100 times a day (or ten, let’s be honest) than to always aim and fail for a solid 15-minutes of prayer once a day.
During my first pregnancy, I prayed every single day for my unborn child. And had a missed miscarriage at 11 weeks. It felt as though God had played a trick on me. I didn’t pray nearly as much during my second pregnancy. Long story short, the day after bringing my premature newborn home, we drove her to the ER with instructions from the on-call doctor to pull over and call 911 if she stopped breathing. I was terrified. She continued to struggle in the hospital, and we weren’t sure if she’d make it. I literally cried to God, “I know she’s more yours than she’s mine, but please let me keep her.” Eight years later, and she’s still here. I don’t know why God answered the one prayer of desperation for my newborn and not my dozens of prayers of confidence for my unborn, miscarried baby.
I believe God responds to the prayers of a few. I was lying back in a dental chair, while the dentist and his assistant had a second go at a root canal today. The first (last week) found two of the three roots but after two hours we were all tired of rooting around (heh heh) and agreed to resume today. While the dentist was in my mouth looking for that elusive third root, I was praying: “God, I know you might be tied up with something 46 billion light years away [the estimated size of the universe at this point], but Dr. K here could really use some help finding that root, because I really don’t want to have to go to the endodontist!” Not long after that, Dr. K found the root and was able to get it cleared and sealed. So yeah, a prayer sent up by one person, answered. I am grateful.
> How often do you forget to pray when asked to pray? Do you think your prayer would have changed the outcome? Do you feel guilty about it?
I think that this is a bit of a mental trap that believers can fall into: Oh no! I neglected to pray and something bad happened — I am at fault for not preventing the bad thing by praying that it would not happen.
In 1 Jn it says that we can be confident that God hears our prayers when we pray in accordance with His will. I think that “hears” in context has the sense of the OT “hearkens”, that is, “hears the request and grants it”.
A strong predestinarian could look at a text like this and infer, “OK — pray for what God has decreed shall come to pass, and your prayer will correspond to what actually happens.”
An alternative “take” might be that when our desires are well-aligned with God’s desires, the things we ask for are more likely to be the kinds of things that God likes to do (a predestinarion would add: “and has already planned to do”). This might be an interpretation of Jesus’ Jn 11 “I know that you always hear me” — Jesus’ requests were always the kinds of things that the Father was inclined to do.
Back to the question, I think it’s really unwise to believe that other people’s well-being depends on how you pray. That’s a recipe for lifelong “survivor guilt,” and it might be a distraction from the ways that you can concretely do good to other people through “the work of your hands” (in the context, to be sure, of prayer that God may establish that work.)
Maybe I’m over-reacting, but I know people whose view of prayer is very unhealthy, and who think that they can heal disease through their prayers, and who actually discouraged the unwell from seeking medical treatment (on the “word of faith” theory that diagnosis actually causes disease). That turned out very badly.
“How many people must pray in order for a particular prayer to be effective? Does one need 5 or 5,000?”
This brought to mind a forgiveness verse from the Gospel according to Matthew: “Then Peter having come, said to Him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I will forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus says to him, “I say to you not up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven!”” (Matthew 18:21-22).
Was a mathematical exercise being conducted where a specific number or formula was the issue, i.e. Peter thinking eight times was too much and was informed that 490 was the calculus to be used and tallied, with 491 being the limit? If not, might what have said have gone to the proper posture of the heart that Christ’s followers should have?
This brings to mind Hebrews 5:7-10 concerning Jesus during His earthly ministry:
“He in the days of His flesh, having offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One being able to save Him from death, and having been heard because of reverent submission, though being a Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered, and having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all those obeying Him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.”
Even though some might wonder why prayer of such a nature (or even prayer itself) would occur or be needed as it were given Christ’s divine nature and His relationship with His Father (cf. John 10:30), these actions of prayer appear to show the posture of the heart of Jesus. His actions were also were evidently welcomed by His Father.
Some of the encouragements in Scripture regarding prayer appear to point further to the proper posture of people’s hearts:
James 5:17 (YLT)
“Be confessing to one another the trespasses, and be praying for one another, that ye may be healed; very strong is a working supplication of a righteous man.”
“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.”
What Jesus said to the disciples concerning the persistent widow and the unjust judge also seemed to focus on the posture of their hearts:
“He was speaking to them a parable about the way it behooves them always to pray and not to lose heart” (cf. Luke 18:1).
This verse from the dialogue of Jesus with the Samaritan woman deals with worship, providing another indication of the apparent valuing of people having a proper perspective and posture of their hearts, as they would approach the Father as their father and their God:
“But an hour is coming and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father also seeks such who worship Him.”
Going back to prayer from groups of people, there are examples throughout Scripture of corporate / national prayer, with actions such as proclaiming a fast, putting on sackcloth and ashes, and so forth in connection with the prayer. One New Testament example of group prayer is from Acts 12, where Herod and killed James – – the brother of the apostle John and one of the three apostles present at the Transfiguration:
“having seen that it is pleasing to the Jews, he proceeded to take Peter also—now these were the days of the Unleavened Bread— whom also, having seized, he put in prison, having delivered him to four sets of four soldiers to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover. So indeed Peter was kept in the prison, but fervent prayer was being made to God by the church concerning him.”
The verses do not appear to indicate that lack of sufficient prayer from those early Christians was the primary reason that Herod was able to kill James. What does appear to be indicated is an example of fervent prayer by a group being answered as far as what is written as occurring with Peter.
As far as what is needed as far as numbers, by these verses alone, it seems that it is taught that the prayer of one can be considerably effective, from the example and James 5 of Elijah to the life of Jesus. Also by these verses, it seems to be taught that prayers of groups can also be effective. Above all, the examples of the prayers and supplications of Jesus and His direct encouragement relating to always pray and to not lose heart should encourage His followers to seek to prioritize and uphold that practice.
After decades in evangelicalism (no longer a part of it), I now have a somewhat different view of prayer. I don’t ask for anything for myself unless it will help others also. God knows what I need long before I do, and I believe God is all loving and all powerful. I only ask for the courage to accept what I can’t change and the courage to change what I can. I ask him to make clear what his will is and to do that.
When severe crises hit, these are hard things to pray. It’s easier to pray for my will to be done, as I did most of my life. But I don’t believe that ever got me anywhere. Today I’m much more at peace that God is at work and will bring good into my life, even when things look very bad. And I’m far more confident that this is the type of prayer God prefers to hear.
Prayer is and should be the kinds you have each described but more as well. To supplicate for everyone everywhere, what does this look like? Maybe it looks like reciting the Office, maybe it looks like mumbling Glory Be’s the whole time.
One day, which christians will be asked “why didn’t you ask that good angels be sent to jog the elbows of leaders in commerce, administration and churches (all of them busy people) out of bad decisions and into good ones – even unbeknownst?”
God knew the Earth needed a sexual revolution, environment revolution, charismatic revolution, just at the time the two biggest denominations in my country were winding down the prayer effort and the teaching of prayer.
You won’t know till later, what and whom you have upheld by just trotting out Glory Be’s. (Glory is to do with providential gifts of little ones.)
This is from the opening chapter of his 2014 book “Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God” –
“ As Flannery O’Connor asked so plaintively, how, then, do we actually learn how to pray? In the summer after I was treated successfully for thyroid cancer, I made four practical changes to my life of private devotion. First, I took several months to go through the Psalms, summarizing each one. That enabled me to begin praying through the Psalms regularly, getting through all of them several times a year. 27 The second thing I did was always to put in a time of meditation as a transitional discipline between my Bible reading and my time of prayer. Third, I did all I could to pray morning and evening rather than only in the morning. Fourth, I began praying with greater expectation. The changes took some time to bear fruit, but after sustaining these practices for about two years, I began to have some breakthroughs. Despite ups and downs since then, I have found new sweetness in Christ and new bitterness too, because I could now see my heart more clearly in the new light of vital prayer. In other words, there were more restful experiences of love as well as more wrestling to see God triumph over evil, both in my own heart and in the world. These two experiences of prayer we discussed in the introduction grew together like twin trees. I now believe that is how it should be. One stimulates the other. The result was a spiritual liveliness and strength that this Christian minister, for all my preaching, had not had before. The rest of the book is a recounting of what I learned. Prayer is nonetheless an exceedingly difficult subject to write about. That is not primarily because it is so indefinable but because, before it, we feel so small and helpless. Lloyd-Jones once said that he had never written on prayer because of a sense of personal inadequacy in this area. 28 I doubt, however, that any of the best authors on prayer in history felt more adequate than Lloyd-Jones did. The early-twentieth-century British writer P. T. Forsyth expressed my own feeling and aspiration better than I can: It is a difficult and even formidable thing to write on prayer, and one fears to touch the Ark. … But perhaps also the effort … may be graciously regarded by Him who ever liveth to make intercession as itself a prayer to know better how to pray. 29 Prayer is the only entryway into genuine self-knowledge. It is also the main way we experience deep change—the reordering of our loves. Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable things he has for us. Indeed, prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things we most desire. It is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God as God. Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life. We must learn to pray. We have to.”
You can rely on the Wartburg Watch for an honest post about faith! You asked for perspectives so here is my non-Christian one. I’m a polytheistic pagan.
I don’t pray. I see the gods as more like energies or the eastern idea of karma (as authentically understood in terms of action rather than the common western understanding which came via theosophy). For this reason they are more invoked by actions than words. For example if you drink drive and die in a crash, that’s got Nemesis written all over it.
I do have a little chat with them sometimes but it’s a conversation, not to ask for anything and certainly not regular.
They’re also not all powerful but do have distinct personalities. I’m a priest of Hecate and so distinctively Hecatean situations are irresistibly attracted to me because I will do something about them.
Seen from the outside it seems to me that prayer is as much as a problem for monotheism as evil is – and you’ve touched on all the reasons I would say that.
A monotheistic answer to the question of prayer is found in (of all places) Vodou, which is actually monotheistic (the Law are spirits not gods). The single God of Vodou isn’t involved in the world: you don’t contact him and he doesn’t intervene. To me this solves the problem of explaining why a God who does intervene apparently doesn’t.
Damn you autocorrect.
So, so sorry.
IMO, the answer to prayer is embedded in 2 Chronicles 7:14:
“If My people, who are called by My Name, humble themselves, and pray and seek (crave, require as a necessity) My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear [them] from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 AMP).
Humility, repentance, total reliance on Him must be offered to God to effect answered prayer, whether it be an individual cry or a corporate appeal. Turning to God in prayer requires a position in our spirit where we “crave, require as a necessity” for Him to meet us in prayer.
I’m reminded of a Leonard Ravenhill quote: “God doesn’t answer prayer, He answers desperate prayer!”
As I reflect on my long Christian journey, I can give testimony to answered prayer in moments of anguish in which I surrendered to Him alone to help me/us.
In addition to personal experience, I have found that there is power in group prayer where genuine faith and confidence in Him resides:
“They brought to Him a man who was paralyzed, lying on a stretcher. Seeing their [active] faith [springing from confidence in Him] …” (Matthew 9:2 AMP)
Luke 18 tells us the point of prayer. In the parable of the Importunate Widow Jesus says it’s so WE won’t lose HEART. It’s the huge difference between direct prayer (which is pouring out our hearts to Him like you and your husband did in the waiting room in Dallas) and directive prayer (which is basically us telling God what we want Him to do). The former is real and spiritual. The latter is fake and fleshly. With God it’s ALL about our RELATIONSHIP with Him, NOT the OUTCOME which is the reason why the Enemy is so opposed to Direct (spiritual) prayer. The Enemy knows that it is only Direct prayer that truly changes this world. Hence Jesus’ exhortation for us to pray at “all times”.
The actual term for this is “Remote Monotheism”, where there’s a big-G God who does not interact directly with mortals, but through lesser supernatural beings – small-g gods, angels, Valar, Maiar, ancestors, saints…
Like Bethel Redding or all those Prosperity Gospel Televangelists.
Remember the difference between Religion and Magick:
In Magick the mortal Sorcerer is the one whose Will prevails over the supernatural forces/beings.
Sarah (aka Wild Honey),
Sarah, I’ve never experienced the loss of a child…..I can’t imagine…. my most sincere sympathies. And I hope your premature daughter is healthy and strong.
But I’m sort of where you are with prayer. I’ve seen things happen, or fail to happen that were contrary to what people prayed for a lot of times.
On the other hand, some things have happened… very up close and personal things… that could only be explained by God hearing and answering prayers.
My husband is retired military, Special Forces. People, myself included, prayed for him and his team. The team he was with was old school Green Berets led by a former Delta. ( These guys, my husband included, are a whole different species! ) ……….3 tours in Iraq between 2001 and 2006….. He was involved in some crazy stuff, dangerous stuff, close scrapes several times……( And I can assure you that a lot of things happened that I will never know about. ). The only injury on the team, ever — captain took a little shrapnel in his leg….. medical unit patched him up and sent him right back out.
Me…….? I should have died from severe head injuries I sustained in a car wreck when I was 18, but I didn’t. I shouldn’t have come out of the coma, ever, but I was only in the coma for 32 hours. So many other things could have, should have been wrong with me……… I should not have been able to live anything close to a normal life. ….. The only permanent damage – I’m deaf in one ear, and I have a few scars, and a hole in my skull a little bigger than a quarter just above my jaw joint. Small price to pay for what could have, should have been. Three neurosurgeons were pleasantly dumbfounded and amazed by my recovery. Six months after the accident, I enrolled in college.
I can’t figure God out. I don’t think we’re supposed to.
A practice which lends itself to “I Pray More Than Thou, LUKEWARM!” One-Upmanship.
During my Cal Poly days (some 45 years ago), we had this one Uber-Christian (from some local Campus Ministry who out-Navved the Navigators) who was like that. I called him “Five Fast Praise-the-LOOOOORDs Will Solve Any Problem” and figured he was heading for a fall. And he really did pronounce “Lord” with caps lock and multiple O’s.
Heck, I haven’t even figured me out yet! I have as many desperate unanswered prayers as desperate answered prayers … at least the answers I thought I should get … He answers in His own time and in His own way.
I think you’ve raised some great questions – but IMHO the answers tend to fall along the lines of, “Prayer doesn’t change the outcome, except for maybe making people feel connected/supported”. I’m an atheist now, though I was raised in the Assemblies of God – and it’s funny how, when you start thinking about things a little critically, it doesn’t make any sense. Like I was raised to believe in ‘prayer warriors’, ‘prayer chains’, and all that – in the sense that more prayer equals better results. But in the best studies that have been done, prayer seemed to make zero difference (when blinded) – except that the group that knew they were praying for had slightly worse results.
All in all it comes down to the “problem of evil”, also termed the “problem of suffering”. There’s supposedly an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God, who could set up the universe *any* way that he wanted – and still, he set it up in a way that babies get diagnosed with horrible genetic disorders, cancer, etc., every day [my wife dx’s kids with genetic disorders every week, there are some truly bad things out there]. Some people like to point to “human free will” when presented with problems of suffering & evil – but with stuff like this there’s no free will involved, it’s just horrible stuff that happens by random chance [especially when we’re talking about de novo mutations]. Some suffer & survive, others suffer horribly and die, and prayer makes *zero* difference. If there’s a God listening to these virtual text messages in heaven, he’s leaving them on ‘read’ – because there’s no evidence of intervention. God is still the God of lost keys, who can *theoretically* make good stuff happen, but apparently just at random – and he evidently hates amputees (except apparently if you have some toe issues 😉 ).
A thought experiment popped up in my mind a few weeks back. Let’s say that any of us on here were told, “Okay, you can restore 1 individual to good health every minute, for the next 240 minutes. They’ll go on to live a natural life and die in their sleep when they’re really old.” Maybe we don’t believe it at first, so we try it out on a cut, and it works. So now that we have reason to believe this is true, what would we do? Is there any one of us who wouldn’t rush to the nearest hospital to help people? How much time would we perseverate about, “Well, I know I could heal some people – but maybe their sickness and death is teaching some valuable lessons to them or the people around them?”? The answer is that we would spend zero time worrying about negative effects of people being relieved from unnecessary suffering.
And yet the God that most US residents believe in, this God of supposed power, knowledge, and love, doesn’t do squat. So, for me it comes down to:
1-I don’t have a good reason to believe that there is a God, because no good evidence.
2-If there *is* in fact a God out there, he’s not worthy of my worship – because I’m morally superior to him.
Anyway, hope this is somewhat enlightening as to a different point of view on the subject.
I see a few comments from Sarah, Muslin, and Nancy2 about prayers that were answered – and I’m delighted that some good things happened for y’all. But how did you determine that the good things that happened were a result of the prayers? How does one make the jump from, “I prayed for the doctor to find the 3rd root” and “He kept digging and got hold of it” to “He found the root through God’s help”. To me that’s the post hoc fallacy (Thing B happened after Thing A, therefore Thing B must have been because of Thing A).
Same question for the Special Forces team of Nancy2’s husband. It’s awesome that they got through scrapes without significant injury or death, I rejoice in their training, luck, etc., – but then if you say, “Prayer is why this team made it through”, wouldn’t it follow that other military teams that experienced lots of death & injury must not have had people praying for them? In my experience, most military folks (especially when they’re going into combat) probably have a boat-load of people praying for them back home. So I find serious reason to doubt this connection.
Bottom line, sometimes the things that we want to happen, will happen. And sometimes they don’t happen. Sometimes really bad stuff happens. And it just makes no sense to me to immediately connect “good thing happened” to “because prayer” and “bad thing happened” to “God works in mysterious ways”.
I would argue that prayer also gives people a sense of “agency” that may be pyschologically beneficial, provided that it doesn’t become toxic (as in “word of faith” and similar concepts). The thing that troubles me is that for some, this is as far as they are willing to pursue their agency; they commit the work to God, but in an “outsourcing” sense, rather than what I think is a sounder sense of ora et labora, prayer and work.
There is a tendency among many Evangelicals in my experience to see a strong tension between the OT concept of “wisdom” and a NT-inspired concept (that I think is probably flawed) of “faith”, and to elevate the latter above the former. But I suspect that it is still the case that wisdom is the most valuable thing, that one should seek above all else, with which nothing can compare.
Headless Unicorn Guy,
I thought the same thing HUG. It was deeply disturbing to read all those posts showing how self identifying Christians expected God to heal their loved ones of a deadly disease which most of them had mocked beforehand. And all because the “prayer warriors “ were on the job. It seemed presumptuous.
Actually, this sort of behavior is no different from what I see in East Asia where people seek out spirit doctors and special Buddhist priests with “powers”. Christians seem to use prayer in the same way- as a means to bring their out of control life into control.
People have given me the title- prayer warrior. I reject it. Maybe because I don’t want people to view me as a Christian spirit doctor. And that’s sure what it looked like at Herman Cain awards.
As far as I can tell there is no evidence God hears better if more people pray. Although we are told The prayer of a righteous person avails much.
I talk to God about stuff. I listen a lot. Sometimes I’ve seen spectacular answers to prayer- like the night a loved one drove away from the house drunk and high and I knew his life was in danger. Begged for mercy that no one would be killed. The head on collision which did occur that night resulted in two totalled cars but no injuries or deaths. Clear Answer to prayer
And Ive seen one miraculous healing in a remote village where people were considering Jesus for the first time in modern history. But I don’t generally pray for healing and almost never for Christians. Because in the Bible it looks to me like healings took place to confirm Jesus words that he could heal hearts.
To speak to your weariness Dee about long prayer lists…. When a friend says “Please pray for my aunt on chemo.” My reply, “No your aunt is your responsibility. But let me pray for you right now that you bless your Aunt as God would have you to.”
I never tell people “I’ll pray for you”. It’s an empty promise. If however I have felt led to pray for a friend I text afterward and say so.
These are just a few thoughts..
I am sorry to be late posting comments. I am currently in Assissi and. it is a quiet town with so so WiFi. This is a quiet Italian hill town with a monastery filled with Franciscan friars. I guess they don’t need fast internet service; I am reading all the comments now.
What a wonderful church to respond like that.
I hadn’t looked at it like that. Thank you.
We prayed together for the pain of the families and children. I was thankful for the brave law enforcement officers who stormed in to stop the shooter.
I didn’t see anything wrong with his comments. I was just reminded of my own circumstance in which I did not inspire so many to pray.
The free will argument is so weak IMO that even double predestination is a better explanation for God not intervening. At least then you know for sure he hates you. (Sarc)
I agree with this. We shall not be omnipotent and omniscient even then. I expect we will spend eternity exploring our questions.
I certainly don’t.
Great comment. Thank you.
Wow. I hadn’t noticed that change. I think you’re correct.
Sarah (aka Wild Honey),
I am so grateful for your daughter’s life!
Muslin, fka Dee Holmes,
I’m rooting for you…couldn’t help myself and am so glad your roots were found.
I’m still learning, for sure!
Thank you for your interesting and different comment.
Well said, Max.
Jeffrey J Chalmers,
II am always getting into trouble and assume I shall be until God calls me home at which point He will slap me upside the head and polish me off. Then I shall go and visit with Johnny Cash and CS Lewis.
I will now post a link with fear and trembling because I want it to be understood.
It’s to a book about prayer written back in the day.
Fear and trembling because, even though the info in the book is good, just like everything else Evangelicals get their hands on, they turn the info and helps within the book into something religious and legalist. Something that they have to “perform”.
But the reason I still have this book around is because in spite of what others have tried to turn it into, it is still the best place I know of that goes through so many of the different types of prayer listed in the Bible. And it also quotes many people from the past including at least one quiet, self-effacing monk.
This book doesn’t just discuss the outgoing types of prayer the can so easily be turned into a performative exercise, but also the quiet and meditative forms of prayer modern Evangelicals seem to have lost in their zeal to ‘perform’ Christianity.
It includes chapters on meditation, listening, waiting, and watching.
Sorry. I’m not tech savvy. Not sure how to do short links here.
Such great questions Dee. I’ve been pretty much flat out for the last 18 months with ME/CFS & had a lot of time to pray, which I’ve done a lot of. I suppose I haven’t asked a lot of these questions formally at this time, I’ve just done it as Jesus said we should. You have been prayed for regularly.
I’ve seen a lot of prayers for physical provison answred this year, & am now starting praying for inner healing & change, as that is what (in my case) will help my physical body to improve.
I hope to report back in another year with tales of God’s inner provision.
I do pray for Tim Keller, & all those like him, I may not agree with him on everything, but I do wish him well.
“ But how did you determine that the good things that happened were a result of the prayers? “
IMHO, we can’t make a determination.
I was just saying that, for some reason, certain situations buck all the laws of probability. Maybe prayers had some influence, maybe not. Sometimes good things happen that seem impossible…… but the same is true for bad things.
I believe there is a God. I don’t know if or when He truly answers prayers, or if or when it is just a “His will be done” thing, or if or when He just lets things happen. I do believe God answers prayers of the faithful, but I also believe that oftentimes, the answers He gives us are not the answers we want to hear.
Oh, & I’m currently suffering from insomnia, which has its roots in anxiety. I would certainly welcome the prayers of the Watch on my behalf.
Here’s a real life account of answered prayer … I know it to be true because it was my real life.
When I was a young man (ages ago), my family attended a rural church near an abandoned coal stripmining town. The coal company was gone, but families still lived there – mostly poor folks who were desperately trying to make it. One of the men in our church decided we should run a bus ministry to the town as an outreach to the children and their families. We bought an old bus, tuned it up and painted it blue. I joined the bus team and we started canvassing the area for riders. On our first Sunday, we had 32 children on the bus. All had never been to church before and most were a bit uncivilized (to say the least).
Well, these poor kids hit the church running and began to conduct themselves in a very unruly way. After the Sunday service, the head deacon stood up and expressed his concern about “these bad children.” He called for a special business meeting after the Sunday evening service to discuss terminating the bus ministry! I was heartbroken to the point of tears. After all, wasn’t this what we were supposed to do – love our neighbors and tell them about Jesus?! I began to pray. At a desperate point in my prayer, I uttered “Jesus, shut Deacon’s mouth until cooler heads prevail!” I can’t believe I prayed that, but I was young and a bit rebellious even back then. Early afternoon, word was circulated to church members that the meeting had been canceled … Deacon had suddenly developed a mouth full of ulcers and couldn’t talk without pain! The meeting was rescheduled to Wednesday evening. I didn’t know whether to praise the Lord or tell Him I was sorry for praying like that.
On Wednesday evening, a recommendation was made by another deacon (the head deacon was still unable to talk) that the church members volunteer to “adopt” one or more of the bus kids, to sit with them in church and teach them how to behave. This “parent/grandparent” program worked great! The bus ministry blossomed, children were converted to Christ, they grew and continued to attend, had families of their own, several now serve in the church as Bible teachers and in other capacities, two are in full-time ministry.
In the decades following that experience, I have found myself praying other desperate prayers. Some have been answered. Some have not (or at least according to the answer I wanted). But I continue to pray and trust His “mysterious ways.”
Wow, how fantastic! I wonder if the Friars have any words of wisdom for you on this?
It’s been over 40 years since my nasty car accident, and I’m still amazed by the way I recovered.
There was a lengthy list of very possible bad mental and/or physical results that I could have experienced, permanently ….. things that medical data, research, and the laws of probability leaned heavily in favor of……… and none of those bad results happened.
It was kind of like flipping a coin over 100 times, and having it come up on heads, every time.
For me, there is only one explanation.
To all…. if you pray, or just think good thoughts….. please do so:
Nine 101st Airborne soldiers (“Screaming Eagles”), stationed at Ft. Campbell, KY (not so far from my home, and where my husband was stationed) died in a helicopter crash last night while on a routine training mission. Authorities are still working to notify family members.
I’ve been asking people recently about their experiences of answered prayer, or the supernatural, & am amazed how mnay people have things they would describe in this way. Oh me of little faith!
Actually we don’t want links shortened. At all. SPAM and other reasons.
But like many links people just copy and past this one contained all kinds of personal search information about how the person got to the link. Here’s all that is needed to make the link work:
Notice with most links you can remove everything after and including you see “/ref=”
Beaker, so good to see you here!
I have been praying for you.
When you feel up to it, email me – no hurry.
Dee, your honesty is a great blessing to so many people, regarding this and everything else.
I don’t have prayer figured out at all. I do believe that love is a major part of it, but trying to parse it all is beyond my pay grade. I also believe God hears the prayers of every hurting soul. Again, though it is beyond me (and, I think, every human being) to know the “hows” of it, I believe God is always working to bring everyone to himself.
When I was in my 40s – while I was still an Evangelical – I decided to “go back” (as, into historical Christian practice) to scheduled prayer. I used Phyllis Tickle’s books, along with the hours of the Northumbria Community, for almost a decade. That really helped me. The prayer times are regular, but the time spent is minimal, so it’s easy to fit into a daily routine. I used the text provided in both sources, but of course one can add one’s personal expressions if one wishes, or even substitute in something more helpful. This served me very well (including in those times that I couldn’t keep the schedule); it got my focus off our left-brain-centered demand for results, and all the Evangelical expectations around prayer that actually robbed me of what was needed to simply be in God’s presence.
Having been Orthodox for nearly 14 years now, I find the simplicity and depth of “Lord, have mercy” to be my go-to prayer – one I start and end “prayer time” with, or can say on the fly, or when I hear a siren, or some such thing. The understanding is that “mercy” isn’t about asking for something that is somehow lacking in what Christ has done forensically toward our sin; it’s much deeper. The Greek “eleison” is related to the word for olive oil, which was the all-purpose healing salve of the ancient world. “Lord, have mercy” is a plea for God to act according to his nature in whatever human situation we have in mind – his nature of faithful love (chesed) – in order to bring about whatever will heal the situation – that’s what He wants to do anyway. Even if terrible things still happen, “Lord, have mercy” also expresses trust that God will ultimately bring that healing. When I also cross myself, I am reminded that the Cross is the center of everything, including all healing, and before Christ on the cross is where God wants to bring us all.
God bless your time in Italy.
Thank you. She is an answer to prayer 🙂
Sounds more like “Drastic Emergency Action” to me.
In my D&D days, that’d be called a “Dice Explosion” (sub-type of “dice futzing”).
Or “Rolling double-ought/00”. (Percentile dice, two ten-sideds both rolling “0”.)
There was even someone who had a term “Smoky Dragon Roll” for rolling four ten-sideds and having them come up “0000”.
After what happened that time in Uvalde, Texas, they now storm in and take out the shooter ASAP.
Just in answer to your question, I *don’t* know that the good thing was a result of the prayer. Which is why I juxtaposed the story with one of unanswered prayers.
Yeah. HCA has had snarky memes of Jesus with the caption “Not enough Prayer Warriors. Too Bad.”
And some recent comments about “Why did they go to the hospital instead of a church to be healed?” and “If they live, it was all Jaysus and the Prayer Warriors, not the doctors. And if they die, the Secular Doctors Murdered Them – PERSECUTION!!!!”
Remember my comments about the difference between Religion and Magick.
If the mortal is in control of the supernatural beings/forces, it’s Magick.
(Crowley spelling deliberate.)
All to often, “I’ll Pray For You” is Christianese for doing nothing and gettng Pious Douplepluswarmfeelies for doing nothing. I respond with a paraphrase of a line from Babylon-5:
You have a saying: “I’ll Pray For You.”
We too have a saying – “PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS!”
Because Talk (including Prayer) must be accompanied by Actions.
You did it only when needed.
You know when to and when not to.
When I was hanging around Charismatics and was asked “What gift/manifestation of the Spirit do you want””, I always replied “Wisdom” instead of “Tongues”. Because Wisdom is the Command Control over all the others, telling you when to and (more important) when NOT to. Completely obvious to me; why do so many find that impossible to understand?
Or weaponize it and use it against you.
Remember the theme of Monty Python’s Life of Brian?
How people have a knack of taking something good and messing it up into just the opposite?
Sounds like the other deacon took this seriously:
But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
— Matthew 19:14 —
Because most of those types have no desire to acquire wisdom.
It might put the damper on the stuff they do want.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
— Proverbs 1:7 —
Prayer, to me, is the promise of God’s loving companionship no matter what happens, whether or not I get the answer I desire. In my bleakest moments I have never felt alone; the words of the Bible have comforted me, and I have felt that God was holding me in the palm of his hand.
We do not know how many pray for us. I believe in the Communion of Saints, mentioned in the Nicene Creed. Although I do not pray to my departed grandparents, it comforts me to believe that they pray to God with me and for me.
‘si comprehendis, non est Deus’
Praise God, Nancy! TWW wouldn’t be the same without your wit and wisdom!
Ken Boa has published an excellent “Handbook to Prayer – Praying Scripture Back to God”.
He has a website.
I love this post, and I love those questions; thank you Dee, for asking them, and I love all the comments.
Jesus noticed the 2 cents the poor widow gave into the Temple treasury more than He noticed the large amounts the powerful and popular chucked in. I’m thinking He does not discount the prayers of just one or two people in favor of the prayers of the multitudes, though there is nothing inherently wrong with a large group of praying people (I’m thinking of the 120 on the day of Pentecost).
In the book of Daniel (chapter 10), Daniel’s answer to prayer was delayed by demonic spirits. Sometimes, it’s not God’s unwillingness to answer prayer, but we may be dealing with things we can’t see. Notice, I said “sometimes,” not “every time.”
I can’t find it now, but in the comments above, someone said love had a lot to do with our prayers. I never looked at it like that before; what a great revelation. If my prayers are motivated by love, I might pray more for that difficult coworker, the stranger in the grocery store, the person different than me. I don’t have to club them over the head with the gospel, I can just pray for them, quietly, in the secret place where only the Father sees.
And our prayers are never wasted or forgotten, they are stored in heaven (Rev. 5:8, 8:3-4), even if we don’t understand it, or even if it seems they didn’t get answered.
I also love the pics of the vastness of the universe. They remind me that God doesn’t exist inside the universe; the universe exists inside God.
This inspires me also:
Ava Aaronson: I pray for the least of the least to seek God and to have God answer them in extraordinary ways, every day.
“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.” (1 Corinthians 13:1, The Message)
It may be that some widely-broadcast requests for prayer, focused on a particular need–one which may or may not be focused narrowly–reflect the belief that the more prayer is uplifted the more likely God is to respond; or possibly the belief that one particular person God listens to attentively or who has a “knack” for getting his request answered will be part of the general prayer-hubbub that rises.
That view of the effectiveness of prayer does not sit well with me. One prayer of one justified person (Jas.5:16) avails much. “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer,” 1Pet.3:12. However many people we speak with, to ask them for prayer and to pray for us, we draw personal strength from the solidarity of the band of intercession. Howsoever God replies to our petition, we have raised a mutual act of faith, love, and hope in God; not faith contingent on the outcome we supposed would most please us.
God hears the faintest, loneliest cry. Even weak confidence spurs us to pray despite our doubt and fear, despite there being no other beside. Jesus encouraged shameless, persistent prayer, as he knew such labor was good for us. In Lk.18 (one of the passages relating the Lord’s Prayer) he advises us to pray with as much purpose in obtaining a blessing as we would pursue help from our neighbor. Lk.18 begins with a similar lesson on the value of persistence in prayer. Some of us confess, with regard to the close of the Lord’s Prayer, “What does the word Amen mean? Amen means: It is true and certain. For God has much more certainly heard my prayer than I feel in my heart that I desire this of him.”
Fervency in prayer, apart from true faith, is useless: ask the prophets of Baal, 1Ki.18. Jesus derided the heathen for thinking they would be heard for their copious words, Mt.6:7. Isaiah derided the Israelite religious in similar fashion, “You make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood,” Is.1:15. But heed St.Paul, “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many,” 2Cor.1:11. The many prayers from faith result in many thanksgivings, to which we might add much encouragement, broad witness to the unbelieving world, new support in sorrow.
God may desire to see a great portion of his church united on a single effort in prayer, which he has determined to be that cause for which he then shall rise to deliver them, Ex.2:24-25,3:9-10; or deliver just a few, or even one. He ordains and aligns means and ends, and engages his people in prayer as their principal part. Soli deo gloria.
One man or a whole host pray for the answer we think will glorify God, and resign ourselves to his wise providence, echoing our Savior’s words in his extremity: “Not my will, but thine be done.”
Prayers within His will always get answered.
Count me in Beaks.
I know what insomnia is, and I hate it too.
I agree Max, Nancy rocks!
Wow, what a great, thought-provoking post!
Can we run this one again, to keep talking about it?
I’ll start here:
“How often do you forget to pray when asked to pray? Do you think your prayer would have changed the outcome? Do you feel guilty about it?”
Yes, there have been times when I said I’d pray for someone, and i just didn’t.
And yes, I felt rotten about it. Because I didn’t keep my word.
For some years now i don’t tell anyone I’ll pray for them unless i’m prepared to do it within the next 10 minutes. And unless i’m able to pray my best prayer of faith.
In myself, i recognize a difference between wish-praying and praying with my faith — it’s strenuous in a way. takes something out of me.
i figure, if i really believe in what i’m doing– that the God of the universe is paying attention to lil ol’ me, to my request on someone’s behalf for something of consequence to them, and that someone has entrusted this to me, i owe it them & to God & to the action of prayer itself to take it seriously and do it for real.
and it should take something out of me.
Thanks, Dee. I value your opinion!
Interesting subject with lots of comments. But there is another perspective to prayer. Usually we are praying for some personal want or need or one for someone else that we care enough to pass on. We are looking for help and sometimes deal with prayer like playing the lottery. You cannot win if you do not pray, so maybe someone gets something good every once in a great while. But what does God say about prayer? What are His thoughts?
I find this scripture thought provoking: “And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” Rev. 5:8
So in heaven, our prayers are depicted as a sweet smelling incense, a fragrance that makes heaven smell good. This is a different perspective than ours for sure. And one that is more sure as our opinions may or may not be proven accurate in the end. So if we want to please God, if we want to make heaven smell better, than we can pray the kinds of prayers that we know God likes. Prayers of thanksgiving for what we have, thanks for answers to prayer, thanks for help, health and whatever else that is good that we know has come from the hand of God. It is important I think to remember this. Prayer is more than pushing buttons on a vending machine hoping it gives you something that you want.
I am of the opinion that prayer can be abused and mis-used just like anything else.
Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.
— Ecclesiastes 5:2 —
That is a great comment there. One I wholeheartedly applaud. It reminds me of a time I got an instant answer to prayer I was not expecting. I was in a bad place, a bad way. Out of that I was out in nature when I did something that I never do: I cried out to God like David did. I yelled at the top of my voice in anger. After I calmed down I apologized but later that day a near instant answer came and it surprised me. I do not get too many instant answers and I knew that I was not being as respectful as I should that day. Yet God heard me and gave me an answer. I still do not really understand it. One for the mystery of this Christian walk thing.
Love the LOtR reference.
I have also been reminded after looking through comments here that communication is key to relationships of every kind. This includes with God. This is so foundational that to forget this I think is to completely misunderstand what prayer is and what it does. If you choose not to ever communicate with a specific person, can you truly say that you have a relationship with them? If you say that is it a lie? And Jesus said that the difference between the sheep and the goats is that the sheep know His voice and follow it, but to the goats “I never knew you.”
Prayer is a form of communication of relationship. Over time those who practice it learn that certain things work and other things, not at all. God wants to hear from us. Prayers get answered with yes, no or wait. God responds to our prayers and is a way of communicating back to us, though this requires patience and it takes wisdom. Maturity comes out of this the more we practice it with humility and an attitude of wanting to learn from it. And from certain comments I can tell that some people have been maturing from what is communicated in their comments, others are much more immature. And the non-Christians do not understand it at as all as it is a practice of a relationship with a God they do not have. They tend to think that we are all nuts and lying. And only God can change those who are so convinced there is no God.
The church we used to go to and the one we currently go to both have prayer chains. Call a number and you will be prayed for by several folks.
“I also love the pics of the vastness of the universe. They remind me that God doesn’t exist inside the universe;”
i totally love the outter space pics, too.
quite frankly, they remind me that God is bigger than (what’s become of) my religion.
and its silly little powerbrokers in their hats they’ve folded from their dinner napkins (living in some kind of Council of Nicaea revival fantasy)
and that God is bigger than what they’ve made of the bible (the itty bitty living space they confine God in)
“The saints and angels in heaven are praying, too, as is Jesus himself. Perhaps they throw their weight toward the prayers of the most isolated and troubled.”
i really love the sensation of that mental picture – ‘they throw their weight toward the prayers of the most isolated and troubled’
like throwing one’s weight in doing lay-up in basketball
just a great thought for all the anonymous alone unTim Kellers of the world.
“But what is the meaning of that prayer? Of course to console those who have lost loved ones. But past that, what is the role of prayer, especially after a life-shattering event?”
in this context, perhaps finding a deep well to hurl one’s pain in? one deep enough to receive the cosmos-shaking force of it. unedited fury & all.
Thanks Muff. You know when you get to that point that you just feel a bit bonkers from lack of sleep (as us Brits would call it)? Eurgh.
“there is an argument to be made that Jesus’ own mighty works were wrought through prayer.”
i think prayer takes on different forms & purposes.
the kind of prayer to influence circumstances, i see it as just what Jesus did. (like you say)
Yes, i think he did what he did in tandem with prayer.
Just as all the Godhead joined with Jesus in healing & bringing about change, I believe all the Godhead joins with us, too, when we pray.
i believe we a co-workers, and God & ‘I’ partner together.
I think it’s ‘easier’ (more facilitating?) for God to work through an agent, a human channel.
like, lightning happens, but it only actually effects things with a conduit of some kind to go into.
“Jesus seems to promise the apostles that they will be able to consistently pray in “extraordinary mode” — “whatever you ask in my name, the Father will do”. This doesn’t seem to work in our time.”
i have a few thoughts:
1. earth hadn’t experienced the everclear-like shot of God’s presence until Jesus showed up. and at Pentecost when Holy Spirit showed up.
matter was like “whoa… what just happened?”
it was new, & matter was responsive —
sort of like when Louis Armstrong began to be heard, or when the Beatles & their music first came on the scene, or like when a young child tastes a lemon for the first time.
now, we hear their music and may appreciate it, but the impact has worn off because we’ve heard the musical influence diffused throug so much of pop music since. we’re used to it.
i think creation is sort of used to God’s typical omnipresence that was initiated with Jesus & pentecost.
“Jesus seems to promise the apostles that they will be able to consistently pray in “extraordinary mode” — “whatever you ask in my name, the Father will do”. This doesn’t seem to work in our time.”
2. i’ve observed that the comforts, conveniences, & predictability of what normal 1st world life is for many people do not amount to being a good conductor of God’s lightning power.
friends, relatives who have found themselves in unique or extreme circumstances in other parts of the world (say, in a missionary capacity) have experienced more overt manifestations of God’s lightning power.
““Jesus, shut Deacon’s mouth until cooler heads prevail!””
oh my word, i love this prayer (and this story).
i’m putting this one in my back pocket.
for such a time as…
“insomnia, which has its roots in anxiety.”
i’m very sorry.
i’m awake, too.
as a practical thing, have you tried holy basil (otherwise known as tulsi basil) tea?
i get it loose. i’ve found it quite amazing. calming, and truly helps me sleep.
if you want interaction-
i totally understand everything you mentioned.
the way i see it…. well, first have you seen the movie Castaway?
The Tom Hanks character was better off for having ‘Wilson’ to talk to (the Wilson brand volleyball that was shipwrecked with him).
not sure we can statistically prove anything about prayer.
and who knows if reality is just a giant eclair and we are microscopic specks on it and some super-being is watching us through a magnifying glass.
but…prayer, even if positive thoughts of hope, can be like nutritious food.
i apologize for unsolicited advice, the content of which i’m sure is nothing new.
God hears the solitary prayer as much as He hears the many. You are encouraged to pray individually and to call for others to join you if you are sick. He does heal. Prayer includes confession. James 5. He sometimes doesn’t heal – David’s first child to Bathsheba died. 2 Samuel 12. If a sparrow can’t fall to the ground without God knowing about it, He knows about us and will care for us whether you’re scared to pray, forget to pray or can’t be bothered to pray. But each will be answered as He deems best for us.
That X. be granted (by the authorities) a medicine review with a better outcome.
Here’s an addition to the story that still brings tears to my eyes. About 25 years following the account I shared, the man who started the bus ministry was killed in a tragic farm accident. At the time of his death, he was Sunday School Director of the church. One of the bus kids, then in her 30s, still attended the church along with her husband and children. She volunteered to take his place leading the Sunday School program and began to minister to other children in the church which had ministered to her. The impact we make in the life of another in Jesus’ name cannot be underestimated.
Yeah, like being the subject of a mean-spirited prayer or sermon by the pastor! (I resemble that remark)
I am proud to hold that title … just a speck in the universe, living in obscurity, fighting bad-boys in the blogosphere, praying as God leads me.
Not sure I’d agree with any of this. In any case, this excerpt begins with needing a sexual revolution and ends with little ones. So the message is, …?
And sometimes prayer is bold and takes courage (definitely not referring to prayers for pastor planes and such here, though; greed and grift may be bold but are not courage).
I don’t know either.
MiUK was obscure at the best of times, but this sounds like he’s on a long slow drive off the deep end. Probably makes perfect sense to him and nobody else, though the excerpt sounds like Pelvic Issues because We Didn’t Pray ending in an eyebrow-raised triumphant “Hmmmmmmmmm?”
You decide for yourself if this was an answered prayer or not. I think it was.
Many years ago I was holding Bible studies for women in my home. They were run of the mill basic plan of salvation studies, and I reached out each time I started one up to a different group of women. We had a new neighbor (lots were 2-6 acres so fairly far walk.) I wanted to walk up and invite her, but had seen she had a dog inside the fence. Did I say rural protective dogs can be mean, and I was scared?
I grabbed one of the invitations, a doggie biscuit, and started to walk over. Got scared and went inside and called my BFF and prayer partner and told her what I was up to. She immediately prayed that just as God could shut the mouth of lion’s in dens, he shut the mouth of that dog. Don’t even let him or her bark. Shut it so completely the dog cannot open its mouth. Then told me I was good to go and have a nice visit. I walked over to the neighbor’s gate. Dog came running up. I offered the biscuit. Dog had saliva running down its chin but could not seem to open doggie mouth at all. I went up, we had a nice visit, all went well. I told her about the dog and she ran to check it. It was fine but would not open its mouth. We were concerned it might have met a porcupine or something. I stepped outside the gate and the dog ran up to the gate tail wagging and started begging. I took the biscuit out of my jacket pocket and offered it and the dog gobbled it up.
Naysayers will scoff. Those in similar circumstances that were bitten will be angry. Some will laugh at me. I don’t care. I saw what I saw.
I went home, called the neighbor, and she just laughed and told me she expected exactly that but figured if I got bit that would give me an even better audience with the lady I was visiting.
I have had much more important prayers offered for me at various times. Some God said yes. Some God said no, and I was not happy about that. Some He said wait….those are also hard.
But always, always, always He answers.
Called the prayer partner, not neighbor. Uf Dah, gotta go tend the bread dough.
My boldest and most courageous prayers have been for some of the bad-boys reported on TWW to lose their ministries permanently. “Touch not mine anointed” does not apply to these rascals!
Thank you. Tonight I posed this question to a group of Christian medical people. They, too, found it challenging.
What is the point of ‘relationship’ if the outcomes of that relationship are not favorable?
That idea doesn’t help me. Loving God helps me. Seeking God helps me. Thinking about an Enemy would distract me from prayer and perhaps, over time, make me feel rather paranoid.
To compare: I feel safe and happy at home. Thinking there’s a bad guy at the window would erode that sense of security.
Good thoughts, Charles.
Thank you. Tonight I posed this question to a group of Christian medical people. They, too, found it challenging.
I’ll pray with you in agreement.
Headless Unicorn Guy,
IMHO, both, and.
Just reread “God’s Smuggler” by Brother Andrew. Andrew told God that since He made blind eyes see, now make seeing eyes blind to the Bibles being smuggled. He often stated exactly what he wanted to happen. Yes, Andrew had a relationship with God.
In another parable about widows, Jesus said when a widow asks for bread, God doesn’t answer with a snake. She can state exactly what she wants to happen: as in, “Give us our daily bread,” from the Lord’s Prayer. Sounds like a direct command to me.
A praying friend (elderly widow) tells young wives: “Nag God, He can handle it.”
IMHO … prayer rules are … trying to think of the word … they suck?
Jesus did lay down one rule: don’t pray like the self-righteous religious elite. Be the humble sinner that you are.
So, there’s that.
Again, my opinion: prayer rules can be pompous. Like, don’t be desperate before God. Well, some people happen to be desperate. Super desperate, maybe through no fault of their own. Go for God, I’d say.
Thank you. This is why I pray lots of Glory Be’s and some Our Fathers.
“Little ones” = those on the periphery of church organisations; spiritual (adopted) orphans and widows in the kingdom / household of God (with their mite).
How “pelvic” is that, if I might ask you an intrusive personal question?
Further to my previous reply, Ministry of Education trainees taunted children about “pelvicity” in class, promoting predation, then church authorities did so in small and medium sized groups, and evangelicals find all of this normal.
Note, the organising head of department (overseer of Christian Union which got left unsupervised after that) left school after a carry-on with a boy, but evangelicals (especially American ones) would say this is no proof of his insincerity around children. This was before any of you (except Max) were born (except the continuing church stuff).
This takes years to figure out; during which one is told to “sweep” a girl / woman “off her feet”, which sounded to me like an inappropriate phrase in the circumstances: how about relating rationally instead – but they had been made suspicious of boys, something evangelicals deny.
All of those, who were more powerful than us, were counting on and playing on shame. Evangelicals don’t have a thought for eyewitnesses (nor authorities’ power differentials). Contemporaries of different ages have confirmed this was beyond precedent at school at the time; hitherto there had been respect for children’s privacy in many schools.
When you pray, you don’t know whom you are guarding, nor against what, nor what you are helping, and for what (that’s providence – sshh, dirty P-word).
Evangelicals banned repentance by proxy (Dan 9: 3-21).
Loneliness is NOT “pelvic”. Perhaps no-one in squirrel munching districts is lonely!
Last night Dateline covered the Kristin Smart case at Cal Poly. May, 1996.
God listened to and answered the prayer of Hannah, a onesie woman, even while the priest guy onsite accused her of being a drunk.
LOL. So what’s the theology? What’s the lesson? Stop being a jerk of a theobro leader maybe? Ya think?
New book title: “When Your Religious Leader is a Dolt”, subtitled: “Keep Praying Anyway, God Answers Anyway; No Nevermind the Lurking Chump, ‘Cuz Obviously God Does Also – No Nevermind the Chump”.
Opening: “There once was a woman named Hannah, who went to the Temple to pray to her God, her Heavenly Father, when along came a clown costumed in religious garb. True story.”
That was HUG’s term. You can inquire of him. I’m sure he can explain.
Your entire comment inspires me, the examples you give. Nice to see examples of prayer from the Bible all lined up and put together. There’s a lot of prayer in the Bible, apparently, from Enoch to the final, “Even so, come Lord Jesus,” in Revelation 22. There’s much more to discover about prayer.
Regarding the post, Dee and Todd have a way of challenging some of the culture of our faith that may be questionable, such as the grasping and groping for numbers in prayer when perhaps God is just looking for one sincerely faith-filled heart, like the heart of Hannah. When Dee and Todd post with their questions, we all, in turn, question the status quo, a Christian culture which just may be missing the mark at some point. Then we collectively work through the questions to get back on track. So, better together. Addressing the status quo in our Christian culture.
Which Cal Poly?
There are two: San Luis Obispo (SLO) and Pomona.
SLO is the one with the famous alumni (like Weird Al Yankovic) and the one that normally gets in the news.
I was Pomona, 1976-78.
Headless Unicorn Guy,
Piper, MacArthur, Mahaney, … they sure think they’ve got God figured out.
Go figure huh?
Headless Unicorn Guy,
I didn’t have you in mind to criticise. Carl Henry and the Jesuits didn’t need Holy Spirit when they had Edgar Hoover willing to share credit with them for inducing a moral veneer as substitute (according to Lerone Martin). The Moody Institute was run along the lines of commercial “one” upmanship while the Fundamentals were devised as mechanised ecumenism, later enforced as maximum belief (and this is narrated by Tim Gloege). Over here, supplications were thought unnecessary by the Stott / Smyth / Fletcher / Ball party and the Jimmy Savile / archbishop Montini parties.
Jim Jones, cliquey “body theology”, Wagner / Bentley etc, are just a whole string of false reactions and counterreactions. This is why we won’t know how much good we’ll do by repeating general prayers, till later. I wouldn’t expect anyone to agree with me, being a mere Trinitarian henotheistic agnostic.
Bad popes, and the segregationist covert Swedenborgian Falwell Senior are the ones that agreed with the predators in saying the only answer to loneliness is getting into bed with someone. You made yourself sound like a Falwell Senior groupie. Is this why Falwell Junior doesn’t even bother getting into bed?
Michael in UK,
I’m just a bystander in this conversation, and I’m unfamiliar with the history on your side of the pond.
I do wonder, though, whether it might be that one of the side effects of a strong conception of Divine sovereignty might be to demotivate many kinds of prayer. God already knows what we need and has already, from eternity past, determined what He’s going to do about it. I think that “strong sovereignty” (FWIW, my thinking tends in this direction) can be held simultaneously with a vigorous prayer practice provided that one understands one’s own prayers to be instrumental in God’s work in one’s own heart. Perhaps it’s an example of a “means of grace”.
This isn’t to argue against your advocacy of prayers at all times for all persons. I just suspect that the means by which these prayers may be effective are indirect — in that they change us (or God changes us through them or in the context of them), and then we become instruments for realization of the good things for which we have prayed.
In addition to the things mentioned in this thread, I am pointing to prayer that is not “about” praying “for” something or someone specific. There are or were christians who traditionally believed that angels are mobilised to effect good that we’ll only know about at a later date. When did we see Thee naked (in any sense), and we clothed Thee?
Hence means of grace can work outside us as well as inside. We need to be careful about using a conception like God’s “determining” as a piece in our logic jigsaw, because by my definition that is indeterminate to us. Why would an even more strongly sovereign God urge “importuning the judge” and “supplicating continually for everyone everywhere”? Isn’t reciting the Office or, if tongue tied, strings of Glory be’s (without counting them), part of this?
The superstitious refrain from prayer because they have no vision of what the household of God is like or about (Prov 21: 10-31, feedings of thousands through exercise as well, parables, our only crown). Yes I agree it won’t work if we don’t cultivate situational chastity and the other major virtues. Don’t I and you seek to get continually refilled? Doesn’t prayer often groan without words? It was you personally that opened my eyes to Ascension when the Church started. I would hate to see you slide into fatalism or parochialism.
Yes, “His own right arm saved Him (i.e whoever He wanted saved)” but nonetheless “He was appalled that no-one was with Him”. Our participating in that however unawares is evidence of that work of grace; this would be cast into doubt if we dogmatically insisted it’s a waste of time. The intuition to meditate on Scripture that’s not about us and not about fatalism, and especially to recite standard prayers is part and parcel of genuine unvetoed gifts of the Spirit.
Functional cessationists will be asked questions why they quenched / grieved Him by proxy through those who listened to them. I fear that in some churches there is too much insistence that any of this is not so. Pre-printed prayers, repeated prayers, all the gifts, the actual eschaton, providence, Kingdom (real version) – all were systematically and totally discredited during my lifetime.
Yes and it doesn’t matter if they don’t “know” they are seeking Him or if we don’t know who “they” are.
Jn 4:23, II Chr 7:14, Dan 9:3-21
You are very kind; I’ll note, with a suppressed giggle, that actually I am moving in the other direction from the one that you are worried about, having already slid into a kind of fatalism/determinism long before I first encountered TWW. My heterodox meditations are the fruit of my attempts to cling to The Story of Jesus, which I continue to find deeply beautiful and that I earnestly hope is true.
Again, thanks for your concern.
I am not orthodox; I am paradox . . . a Cafeteria Trinitarian Henotheist . . . I expect no-one to “agree with” me but it’s great when some others are inspired to bring their thinking into view also (rather than assume the assuming of assumptions).
I “got myself saved” 100 times and flaked out in the Spirit 60 times before I was 20 because people kept telling me to (I “looked as if” I hadn’t) but what didn’t get rolled out was what is supposed to happen next. Is there actually supposed to be Christian living.
One intuits things, if vaguely: I dropped out of a church 10 years before the vicar got suspended and out of another 6 months before the vicar got suspended. There was a bunch of people I stayed with 24 years too long. Your insights on Ascension (the real birth of the church) are one of my biggest jigsaw pieces ever.
An extra sort for your lists:
Pray to God for various weathers for your various harvests at different times. Not excluding potatoes, tomatoes, tree and bush fruits, leaf crops, hay for my friends’ livestock . . .
It interferes with the Fundagelical tunnel vision on the Decision/Moment of Salvation. Since they don’t follow through afterwards, all you can do is go back and walk the aisle and say the words over and over and over again. (Jury’s out if the don’t is because they can’t or because they won’t.)
In either case, it arrests your development at the infant stage and never gets beyond that.
I have long maintained that Christians need a transfuation of Judaism’s emphasis on the here-and-now and living your life. To balance out the Over-Spiritualizing, if nothing else. (“Restore Balance to The Force”?)
Headless Unicorn Guy,
One thing that was fun though was how the Elims (a good pentecostal denomination at the time) used to crack jokes about the “evangelly-mould”.