Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Be Part of The Answer To Your Prayer

That's a new conclusion for me. Maybe you already had that figured out.

I've been working on that thought for a while.

What's the value of praying for my wife to change if I'm unwilling to note my contribution to the problem that I'm praying to the Lord about.

Or, "Please Lord, help Anchor change lives." But then I'm less than willing to do my part in the Lord's work to answer my prayer.

What about praying for physical healing? Scientifically there is not much support that prayer makes a substantial difference. Yes, somebody can find a report that says prayer conclusively makes a noted difference; yes somebody can find a report that states the opposite. But for all the prayers that seemed to make a difference, there are a bazillion more prayers that didn't seem to be as effective.

So is there any value in praying for people to get well?

Probably not.

I know that as a pastor I probably should not be admitting this.

Here's the thing: I don't have much of a problem praying to the Lord to heal somebody who is ill with something that is completely not their fault. A friend's son gets leukemia, my brother gets a brain tumor, a friend gets mugged and breaks her leg. Sure I'll pray for their recovery.

But it's harder to pray for people to get well who are now sick because of irresponsible habits pertaining to diet, exercise, stress, addictions, etc.

So many people focus on prayer requests for health instead of paying more attention to changing their lifestyle. Yes, there are valid requests for God's intervention to heal, but it seems like God likes to answer those prayers through the application of modern medicine, healthy living, and good old fashioned wise choices.

What about prayers regarding relational issues? Those are prayers that often get abused also. As stated above, many people want God to fix a relational problem without being part of the solution. Probably not going to work.

James says: Very, very powerful is the productive petition of a righteous person.

Why? Because a righteous person has cultivated a life with moral authority, wisdom, authentic love for neighbor, willingness to serve as the hands of Christ, etc. So when a righteous person prays about something, they pray very aware, they see more than the average person, they are also much more willing and capable of being part of the answer to the prayer. Willing because they carefully choose the words to their petition to the Lord, and capable because they have cultivated courage, trust in the Lord and developed the habit of responding in mercy like Jesus.

If you feel like God is not answering your prayers: consider your willingness to be part of the answer. On your terms or God's? Any righteousness issues you need to deal with? Are the problems you want solved connected in any way to your mistakes, sins, follies of the past? If so, whatever God's intervention, odds are it will hinge on your willingnesss to work out the consequences of your sins - His way.

Keep praying; but pray wisely, pray honestly, pray attentive to reality, pray in accord with the Way of Jesus.

Above all, pray without ceasing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great "disection" of the power of prayer. It kind of seems like the stronger our relationship with God, the stronger our prayers are. Not because God will answer them quicker, but because he has the stronger person ready, able and willing to be part of the answer.