The Death of Prayer is a Lie
The Death of Prayer is a Lie
By Senior Pastor Gary Lewis
There seems to be a movement afoot in some “Christian” circles to devalue prayer. The thinking seems to go this way: Because God is good; prayers of petition, supplication, and intercession are a waste of time and energy. Such prayers are unnecessary and demonstrate a deep unbelief in God’s goodness.
Prayer, then, is an admission that we believe God will not pay attention to us and the needs of others unless we beg God to do so. For this reason, it is wrong to ask people to pray for us and it is unnecessary to pray for ourselves or anyone else. God already knows what you, your friends, and your loved ones need. Because God is good, it does not make sense to pray.
This perspective is wrong for two reasons:
1. It contradicts the teachings of Jesus.*
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites.” Matthew 6:5
“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:6
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they thinks that they will be heard for their many words.” Matthew 6:7
“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Matthew 6:9
“Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:38
“And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” Matthew 14:23
Also read: Matthew 21:13, Matthew 21:22, Matthew 26:36, Matthew 26:41, Mark 1:35, Mark 6:46, Mark 9:29, Mark 11:24, Mark 11:25, Luke 3:21, Luke 18:1.
A careful read of these passages makes it clear to me that Jesus does not think prayer is a waste of time. Jesus, the Son of God, prayed and so should we. If you want more evidence, check out Luke 1:13, Acts 1:14, Acts 1:24, Acts 2:42, Romans 12:12, Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 4:6, Colossians 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
The Apostle’s Paul advice to Timothy is a clear call to the value of prayer in the life of the Christian. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.” 1 Timothy 2:1
2. It undermines prayer as a means to know God more deeply and participate in God’s work in the world as co-laborers.
We pray not only because prayer changes things but also because prayer changes us. Prayer keeps us humble and directed away from our tendency to be our own God and instead lean into the truth of God’s presence in our life. Therefore, prayer is not a way to beg God to do something. Rather, we become co-workers to accomplish God’s will in the earth.
“For we are God’s fellow workers …” 1 Corinthians 3:9
“And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.” Mark 16:20
The Bible both promotes and testifies to the power of prayer. God did not set up the world so God would act alone. God wired the world, as creator, so that humans can participate as co-laborers to bring God’s glory into this dark world. In a way, prayer is how we can fulfill the commission that God first gave to Adam in the Garden of Eden to police the earth. It also relates to how Jesus – in his bodily resurrection – takes up that role today through the Holy Spirit as the new humanity as citizens of the Kingdom of God.
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ … for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” Ephesians 2:13, 18.
One final thought. It is important to remember how our attitude and language about prayer sounds to those who do not trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and for those who have given up on faith (that is a large number of our neighbors). People are wide open to latch onto the idea about the death of prayer perspective when they ask God to change situations that hit close to home. When they do not get a satisfying answer, when a loved one dies, or a dream dies, this dim view is often the result. In fact, this is how many atheists are born.
Prayer is hard work. Anything good in life requires effort. The benefits of prayer are profound. Keep praying! (* English Standard Version)