I am preparing a sermon on prayer, and was wondering what your thoughts might be on the subject.
As I see prayer expressed in Christianity today, I really believe there
is a very fine line between prayer and witchcraft. In witchcraft, prayer
is exercised as a means of getting spiritual entities to respond in a
way to inflict good on some other person. Of course the witch determines
what is good and what is evil, and either the overall spiritual
consciousness or individual spirits respond to the prayer being invoked.
The concept of believing in the power of prayer did not originate from
the recent Christian mantras, but has been a fundamental tenant of
witchcraft for many ages.
I do not believe in the power of prayer. I only believe in the power of
God. Now, many Christians respond to me when I say this in agreement
with me, but in their hearts they really don't believe me. They truly
believe that God is going to respond to them because of their prayers to
Him, and hide their pride by saying something like, "if it's the will of
God." However, deep down inside they really believe that they can have
an influence on God, and that they now have some mystical power they can
draw on to effectively inspire or even control the hand of God. While
this is certainly very attractive to our flesh, prayer has nothing to do
with getting God to respond to us.
God is so often portrayed in the same way that God is portrayed in
witchcraft. He is some kind of impersonal spiritual essence that we call
upon when life isn't going the way we want it to go. Many Christians
have no idea that God is a real person, who is actively living His life
as we live ours. He inspires people, and communicates with them. He
effects events and sometimes intervenes in miraculous ways in the
affairs of mankind. But He decides when, how, and what He will do
regardless of what we tell Him we would like Him to do. He does retain
His autonomy and sovereignty quite often in spite of us.
Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6-7 that we are to be anxious for nothing,
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your
requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all
comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. It
is a comfort to me when I experience anxiety that I can speak to God and
He hears me. However, as my focus is turned towards Him, I recognize His
love for me, and can experience a peace that can only come from Him.
This is not because I think He is going to respond to me and give me
what I want, but because I recognize who He is in the midst of my
circumstances. You can't imagine how people are often offended when they
ask me what they should be praying for me in my life, and I respond with
the fact that I'm not particularly anxious about anything at the moment.
It is so offensive because they personally are often consumed with their
own anxiety, and they can't pray anything for me to make themselves
feel like they are concerned more about others than themselves. Don't let such a
comment stop you from praying for me, in fact, this may inspire you to
pray for me more if you don't agree with me, but let it be put on your
heart by the Spirit of God within you to pray for me if He inspires you
to do so. And if He inspires you to pray for me, I can't imagine Him not
also telling you what to pray for. Otherwise, prayer can easily become a
mechanism and a religious excuse to stir up gossip.
In my own personal life experience, I have found my life of prayer being
more a time of expressing thanks than asking God for something. He has
given me everything I need for life and godliness, 2 Pet 1:3. So, what
can I ask for that I don't already have? Generally what I don't need for
life and godliness. Should I really expect God to respond to that? Not
necessarily. Don't get me wrong. There are many occasions when I do pray
and make requests that appear to be directly related to my flesh. The important
thing to realize is that this does not have anything to do with my
relationship with my God. So often people ask for Him to do what He
never came to do, and reject from Him that which He already gave. All
that remains is the giving of thanks, which I do as I pray and live my
life with a dependency on Him. Subsequently my prayer life becomes more an act of listening than of
talking, wanting to hear from Him about what He has given me, and how it
applies to my life.