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Praying for Effect

Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers. -Ephesians 6:18

Praying is an important human activity. Historically Christians have believed it essential:

John Wesley, the father of the Methodist movement, said, “God will do nothing but in answer to prayer.”
S.D. Gordon said, “The greatest thing anyone can do for God and for man is to pray….”You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.”
E.M. Bounds: “God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil.”

It seems the American people agree. A 2010 survey by the National Opinion Research Center determined that 86% of Americans pray; 57% pray at least once a day and 75% at least once a week. Surely then for Christians, the percentage is much higher. Certainly our church does a lot of praying. We have our prayer lists, prayer chains, prayer groups, prayer teams, prayer meetings. We invoke and “benedict” every meeting or occasion and have several prayers in every service. We request prayer for ailments, troubles, decisions, for friends, relatives, ourselves. The last thing we need is someone telling us to pray—right? Maybe, but why does our praying sometimes seem to make so little difference? How can we pray “for effect” so to speak?

Maybe the problem is not so much how often or how much we pray but the nature of our prayers. The most obvious characteristic of our praying is we pray “for.” We are asking for something we want from God—healing, direction, comfort, strength, peace. Now that’s appropriate and important but not primary. And until we get the order right, our praying will be less than what God intends.

Christian prayer begins with listening to God. In silence, in meditation, reflection but most of all the context of the Scriptures. Then we need to respond in praise, adoration and action.

As Eugene Peterson says, such praying is essential to keep the reality of the Good News (vs Bad News) as a basis for living:

“It is hard to believe and much-denied…The sheer quantity of wreckage around us is appalling: wrecked bodies, wrecked marriages, wrecked careers, wrecked plans, wrecked families, wrecked alliances, wrecked friendships, wrecked prosperity” (Peterson, Working The Angles, 15)

It is also essential to maintaining our relationship to God. Only as prayer fills that place in our life can we really pray for effect. Only then does it change us and change the world.

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One Response

  1. Danny,

    Thank you for writing your Discipleship at Messiah postings. I always benefit from them. You are serving up spiritual meat.

    Steve

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