The Purpose of Prayer

I’ve needed to write this post for awhile now. But I’ve been putting it off because of fear. I was afraid of spouting something off that someone will say is “incorrect doctrine” or, on the other hand, offending someone because they’ll take it too personally.

I’m sick of living in fear. This is what I know to be true.

Most of the people I know that know “about God” think of prayer like some kind of wishing well. They say some words, cross their fingers, hope God hears, and half-halfheartedly believe that He’ll actually do something about it. When God does move, they make comments like: “See! Prayer works!” As if it were like turning on a light switch. Do “X” and “Y” will happen, right? Buzz. Wrong. While God does “answer” prayer, He’s not a gumball machine.

The other large percentage of people I know pray in some sort of Christian language that comes from a deeply religious (read: Pharisee-like) place.  Their words come from the Christian Book of Acceptable Doctrinal Vocabulary, but as you’re praying with them, you just want to slap them around a bit and scream “What are you saying!!!??” You can tell that they’re not connecting with you, God, or their own heart.

The purpose of prayer isn’t to work some sort of Christian witchcraft — say a few chants and poof! our desires are met. The purpose of prayer is not for God to think about what we want and offer it to us because we asked the right way.

The purpose of prayer is to move us closer to God and closer to each other. Yes, that was a period.

We go to prayer because in prayer, He unites us with Himself. And since He is at rest, because He is in control, and we are uniting with Him, we get to feel where He’s “at”.  We get to experience His wisdom, His self-control, His assurance, His confidence. We grow to trust Him more because we “see” His character.

When I go to prayer, I expect God to talk. I expect Him to bring assurance and encouragement. I expect it because that’s who He is. He’s relational. He’s an exhorter. He wants what’s best for His children. Remember, He’s offering me Himself, so He’s going to offer me His character traits.

I also expect that when I ask for His will to be done, that it will be done. What is the will of God? The will of God is for people to be the best that they can be. Not by self-striving, of course, but by a transformational process. So, when I pray, I don’t just say ” I pray that your will is done.” That would be Christianese. I say “let your will be done by the abolishing of their anger issue, or my issue with bitterness. Remove the hindrances, remove the agreements, remove the spiritual forces that stand in the way, and get everybody in line behind you.” And because it’s already in His will, He says yes.

As I said before though, it’s not just about God and us. It’s about us and others, too.

When we ask others to pray for us, it’s should be so that they will experience God’s presence and offer us the fruit of that experience when we talk to them. After praying, God often has shared something of Himself that keeps them from caving in, sitting silent, or offering brutal judgment. Instead, they will be able to offer the life and light they’ve received and remind us of who God is and what He’s capable of. Can you imagine how powerful the church could be if our communities of believers actually understood the gift of prayer? And because we’re functioning off of the best of ourselves, ta da!, we actually like each other more.

When we ask others to pray with us, it’s to invite Jesus in. Our “job” in prayer is not to comfort, or console, or to say the right words. Our job is to bring people to Jesus. That’s it people. If I ask you to pray with me, it’s so because I’m having a hard time remembering how to talk to Jesus. Just bring me to Him. He’ll take it from there.

I know this is a bit of a rant, but it needed to be said. The LORD is a mighty God. It’s about time we realize that the communication we have with Him is more powerful than lighting a candle.And He wants more than nice words. He wants us. He’s willing to offer us Him, surely us doing the same is not too much of a price.


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