A Western Worldview of Prayer

I grew up hearing, “The Lord helps those that helps themselves.” I understand the premise of this oft-quoted phrase but I believe it has done more to hinder a Christ-centered prayer life than it has too help it. Primarily because, “If I can get what I need on my own accord, then what do I need God for?” This self-absorbed view of the Christian walk has bred a cynical approach to prayer.

Have you ever asked, “Why do I need to pray for something, or someone, as long as someone else does it?”

Or perhaps you’ve wondered, “What difference does it make anyway?”

And when we do pray, and the prayer is answered, we think, “It probably would have turned out that way anyway.”

Or if our payer isn’t answered we think, “What’s the use in praying if God doesn’t hear me?”

The problem with these questions is that they are all centered on the one praying with our preconceived notion of the end results already affirmed before the Amen is uttered. The result of this type of praying is that God is left on the sidelines of our life and our relationship with Him falters.

I have often reflected on one of Jesus’ prayers. After being unjustly tried; punished for a crime he didn’t commit; and just before dying while hanging on a cross, He spoke, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” It was brought to my attention recently through the book “A Praying Life” by Paul E. Miller, that this moment was the first time Jesus was separated from God. Up until this moment he had never known a time when he wasn’t in an intimate relationship with the Father. This separation was mandated to pay the price for our sin. The agony of the cross failed in comparison to the agony of separation from God. At this moment Jesus was fully engulfed into the human realm that each one of us is born into – an existence without true connectivity to our Creator. If we fully understood the relationship that our Father wants with us we would understand the need to be in a constant state of communication and fellowship with Him. If we truly understood His love for us, our lives (and community) would look very different than it does today.

How do we achieve this? Through prayer. Yet, prayer may seem too time consuming, or rudimentary, or vague.

What does prayer mean to you?

Does prayer seem nice but unnecessary?

Is prayer more comfortable to talk about than do?

Is it easier on your faith not to pray?

Prayer is not a sign of weakness, but one of strength. Do you not know that the most powerful advocate in the world is only a thought away?

Prayer is not invalid but is an authentic and authoritative means of communing with God.

Prayer is never about us, but about unleashing the power of the Holy Spirit to restore and nurture our relationship with our Creator and Savior.

Prayer is, the least, and the most, we can do.

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