What We Know of Prayer is An Assumption
What is Prayer? The Common vs. Uncommon Answer – Part 2
“Father I stretch my hand to thee, no other help I know. If thou withdraw theyself from me, whither shall I go? Father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…” These words bring chills to me. If you’ve gone to church much you’ve probably heard words like these when a person began to pray.
“… in Your name we pray, Amen.” You’re certainly familiar with this most popular (51% and better) used ending to a prayer.
Let’s not forget “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food. By His hands we are fed…” and “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should…”
Where does this stuff come from?
Most people assume prayer is their opportunity to be godly or it’s their Christian or religious requirement when put in certain situations. Most people believe prayer is an opportunity to ask God to do something and that’s going to be the end of it [the thing they’ve asked Him for]. I prayed for something, God does something and everything works out the way I wanted it to. That’s an ordinary, normal, common way to look at prayer. It’s been looked at this way for years. No-reen. There’s my dear Aunt No-reen, showing up again. There is no reason for this prayer to work, most start out with bad expectations.
Let’s take a closer look so that you can see a clear reason why expectations are out of whack. What is prayer, the common answer?
- A recited poem.
Prayer is a learned poem that I recite before bedtime or mealtime. How often are you reciting the same old prayer that you have for years? Now you even have your children reciting the same poems. I bet you’d even recite “The Lord’s Prayer” and call it prayer. “Our Father, which art in Heaven…”. If you think reciting a prayer is prayer, I understand why prayer doesn’t produce results for you. Why should it?
- Prayer from a guidebook.
Many times denominations will provide guidelines for their church leaders (i.e. deacons, preachers, and pastors). These guidebooks often contain prayers they can pray for certain ceremonies, like funerals, weddings, and so forth. If this is what you think prayer is, then you too have a common (or worldly) definition of what it means to pray.
- What the elders do during devotion.
Although it’s been a while since I’ve been in a service that had a traditional devotion, the deacons or church elders would lead the church in “prayer”. If you can call it that. Well, it sounds good and it’s practiced widely, however it doesn’t mean that it gets excluded from our list of common prayers. These deacons would “pray” before the church. If you want the truth, they too just recited their own version of prayers with poetic verse. If this is what you think prayer is then you too have fallen prey to the “common” answer of what is prayer. The above statement may hurt a little, but it might be needed if you want prayers that bring results.
- The opening welcome during worship service.
While it’s tempting to let this one slide, I can’t. Just because someone recites a verse of scripture and mentions the Lord, or Jesus and welcomes you to service, doesn’t mean you’ve prayed. If you’ve labeled this as prayer, it too is a “common” answer to the question of what is prayer.
- A service called “prayer service.”
Prayer service is a gathering that’s held at a specified time that very few believers attend. Surprisingly I use this common term…I’m going to prayer, which means I’m going to attend a prayer service. You know what’s interesting if the folks at the prayer service received 90% answered prayer results, don’t you know these services would be the most popular church services we have? If you think this is prayer, you too have a “common” answer to what prayer is.
- The way in which we talk to God.
Most small letter c-christians will use this answer so they can appear to know what they’re talking about. Using this answer gives off the indication that you’re somewhat spiritual. “Call Him up and tell Him what you want.” Right?! But when was the last time this person heard from God and what did He say since they’ve been talking to Him? Even though the answer sounds good, doesn’t exclude it from being “common”, at least a common answer to what prayer is.
You may not realize this, but the normal answers (to what prayer) are all prayers in which people don’t expect an answer or any type of resolve or communication. These statements are simply popular rehearsed answers that are expected of small letter c-christians.
I would expect at this moment, you can identify with one or more of the above mentioned answers. This is very good news. Because if we desire to get to prayers (uncommon prayer) that work, we must remove prayers (common prayer) that do not work.
Remember, I mentioned this would rock your world a little, but that’s exactly what extraordinary does; it rocks what’s normal. Stay tuned, we have so much more in store. We are still just getting started. Next week, we will define the “uncommon” answers to what prayer is.
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