9 Lies You Hear in Church: #2. If You Pray Hard Enough, God Will Answer

Part 2 of the series “9 Lies You Hear in Church
Rev. Mark Schaefer
Kay Spiritual Life Center
September 16, 2012
Psalm 55:1-7; Luke 18:1-8

Image courtesy wordle.net

Psalm 55:1-7 • God, listen to my prayer; don’t avoid my request! Pay attention! Answer me! I can’t sit still while complaining. I’m beside myself over the enemy’s noise, at the wicked person’s racket, because they bring disaster on me and harass me furiously.   My heart pounds in my chest because death’s terrors have reached me. Fear and trembling have come upon me; I’m shaking all over. I say to myself, I wish I had wings like a dove! I’d fly away and rest. I’d run so far away! I’d live in the desert. Selah

Luke 18:1-8 • Jesus was telling them a parable about their need to pray continuously and not to be discouraged. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him, asking, ‘Give me justice in this case against my adversary.’ For a while he refused but finally said to himself, I don’t fear God or respect people, but I will give this widow justice because she keeps bothering me. Otherwise, there will be no end to her coming here and embarrassing me.” The Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. Won’t God provide justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he be slow to help them? I tell you, he will give them justice quickly. But when the Human One comes, will he find faithfulness on earth?”

I. BEGINNING

There is a scene in an old Simpsons episode in which Bart and Lisa make a reasoned request of their father Homer.  Lisa begins: “Dad, as you know, we’ve been swimming, and we’ve developed a taste for it.  We both agree that getting our own pool is the only way to go.  Now before you respond, you must understand that your refusal would result in months and months of…” Whereupon she and Bart begin repeating: “Can we have a pool Dad? Can we have a pool Dad? Can we have a pool Dad?  Can we have a pool Dad? Can we have a pool Dad?”  After just a little while of this, Homer says simply, “I understand” and relents.

The Simpson children were employing a time tested children’s strategy: just keep asking your parents over and over and over again and eventually they’ll give in just to shut you up.  Everyone knows the virtues of the Pestering Strategy.

II.    THE TEXTS

Jesus even talks about it in the parable of the Unjust Judge.  A woman in a certain town is in need of justice, but the judge is neither just nor God-fearing.  But she comes to him every day and bothers him to the point that he gives her justice just to go away.  It’s also known as the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” strategy.

Jesus notes that if an unjust judge will relent and give justice, how much more will a just and loving God do so for his chosen ones? He notes, “He will give them justice quickly.”

Jesus’ main point is that God is not disinterested and aloof, but caring and responsive.  But does God’s timely response to justice apply to all kinds of petitions?  Does this hold true for every instance of prayer?

It doesn’t appear that this has been the experience of the author of the 55th Psalm:

God, listen to my prayer; don’t avoid my request! Pay attention! Answer me! I can’t sit still while complaining. I’m beside myself over the enemy’s noise, at the wicked person’s racket, because they bring disaster on me and harass me furiously.

The great thing about the Psalms is their honesty.  They cover the entire range of human emotion and particularly the range of emotions in our relationships to God.  There are psalms of praise, psalms of joy, psalms of lament, psalms of anger. And there are psalms of desperation like the one we just heard read.  A psalm crying out to God to hear the psalmist’s prayer.  A prayer that has been oft repeated but goes seemingly unheard.

The psalmist’s experience is not unique, is it?  We have all of us had those times where we keep praying for something—fervently, repeatedly, insistently, then pleadingly—and hear nothing at all.  We continue to pray and our prayers become ever more plaintive.  We begin to bargain with God: “Dear God, if you will simply grant my request, I’ll…”  And we promise anything.

All of us here know this experience.  All of us, including me, know the fervor with which we can pray for something we desparately want to be and have felt that our prayers are falling on deaf ears.  And we don’t understand why that should be.  Why won’t God answer?  Does God not care?  Am I doing something wrong?  Have I not been faithful enough?

Because somewhere we have heard that all we have to do is be patient enough and keep asking and God will give us what we want. Like the woman in Jesus’ parable, our persistence will pay off eventually.

III.  THE PETTY DESPOT

Our former campus rabbi, Rabbi Ken Cohen, once shared with me an interesting observation about the portrait of God often encountered in the Bible.  He noted that there are passages about God that alternate between sycophantic praise and groveling that make God appear to be a petty Near Eastern tyrant.  “In certain passages, he comes off like he’s Saddam Hussein”, he once noted.

Of course, he is not alone in this observation.  Many have noted that there is much in the prayers of Judaism and Christianity that are basically forms of groveling.  Now, it may have been natural for an Ancient Near Eastern people to have imagined their sovereign as your typical Ancient Near Eastern monarch.  That’s hardly surprising.  It is a reflection of that ancient culture. And in the final analysis, it’s not an indictment against God, but, as Rabbi Cohen notes, “a reflection of our limited ability, given time and place conditioning, to view God outside our own culture.”

But we continue to use this image, don’t we?  It’s thousands of years old, produced by a culture we no longer identify with, and yet this image of God as a petty tyrant whom we have to beg or get facetime with persists.

Illustration by Rachel Ternes

We do act as if we pester God enough, God will relent.  God will become convinced of our seriousness of faith and relent.  In some Christian traditions, intercessors are asked to pray on our behalf, to get God’s attention, if you will, so that our prayer will be heard.  It’s fascinating how often this model of God persists in our unconsciousness. We pray for something, and then, if we don’t get it right away, we pray for it again.

But it should be pointed out that our home-grown cultural interpretations of God aren’t much more helpful. Rabbi Cohen also notes that if we were to reflect on the way God is understood in our culture it would be as a God of “instant self-gratification”, a celestial “buddy” who demands little of us and provides what we need.  You know: Santa Claus.

The Santa Claus model of God is found everywhere.  Where prayer is seen as a method to obtain what we want.  Rachel’s illustration on our bulletin covers tonight demonstrates the kinds of things we are accustomed to asking for from God.  Good grades, better teeth, requited love, money, success, the Red Sox to win (that prayer certainly isn’t being answered this year), and so on.  A Christmas list of things we want and God is the way we get them.  And so we pray.  And pray. And pray.

When we don’t get what we want, we sometimes console ourselves with the platitude that while God answers all prayers, God sometimes answers “no”.  That’s an interesting solution to the problem but is indistinguishable from God failing to answer at all.  What if God doesn’t always answer prayer?  Or…what if prayer is about something else altogether?

IV. CREATING A GOD-SPACE

Indeed, let’s ask ourselves, ultimately: what is prayer for? Can we really imagine that God is unaware of the things we need?  Doesn’t Jesus comment on exactly this absurdity?

“When you pray, don’t pour out a flood of empty words, as the Gentiles do. They think that by saying many words they’ll be heard. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask.” (Matthew 6:7-8)

If God knows what we need before we ask, either we have to come to the conclusion that God simply wants to hear us grovel or that prayer is about something altogether different than requesting things from the Almighty.

In the mystical traditions of Christianity, prayer has a very different purpose.  In fact, prayer has a very different methodology.  Prayer is often seen as operating on three different levels.  The first is called “discursive” prayer and usually involves speaking words aloud, either words particular to our situation (“Dear God, help me in this time of need…” or words of a mantra over and over (“Hail Mary, full of grace…”).  There is non-discursive prayer in which the prayor imagines a situation or sits with a feeling and prays through that.

But then, the mystics talk about a highest level of prayer, in which God prays through you. It involves the total emptying of self and the allowing of the spirit of God to work within an individual.  This kind of prayer is seen as the highest kind of prayer in the mystical traditions. Interestingly, it is the kind of prayers least connected with getting something we want.

What if the mystics are right?  What if prayer isn’t about getting what we want?

To be quite honest, the popular idea that prayers are petitions to God, who like a king (or Santa Claus) simply has to pay attention to our request and be properly disposed to granting it, is somewhat bizarre when you think about the other things we say about God.  We claim that God is omniscient—so why do we have to pray unless God likes to make us beg?  We claim that God is gracious—so why do we have to ask rather than for a gracious God to act out of God’s own freedom and generosity? We claim that God is wise and generous—so why do we think that we have to “game” the system by praying a lot or stronger or with more people in order to get God to do what we want?  How does a system of petitions and requests match up with everything we know about God elsewhere?

Quite frankly, it doesn’t.  And it seems that perhaps the greater truth is going unexpressed.

What if we were to imagine that God already knows what we want.  And that God already seeks to provide for us the things we need.  And that God already loves us and seeks to be in relationship with us.  And that God does not need to be bribed or bullied or cajoled to want to provide for us.  God is already at work, before our pleading, before our repetitions, before our attempts to get God’s attention.

So, am I saying that prayer has no use?  By no means.  Prayer is incredibly useful, but perhaps not in the ways we’re accustomed to thinking.

What if prayer is about the prayor more than the prayee? What if it’s about transforming ourselves rather than prevailing upon God for something? Wesley himself spent two hours a day in prayer and said,

One great office of prayer is… to exercise our dependence on God; to increase our desire of the things we ask for, to make us so sensible of our wants, that we may never cease wrestling till we have prevailed for the blessing.”[1]

That is, prayer makes us more aware of what we need.  And prayer helps us to know what is worthy of our desires: “nothing being fit to have a place in our desires which is not fit to have a place in our prayers.”[2]  That is, if you feel uncomfortable praying for something, then perhaps the desire itself is something to look into.

In both instances, Wesley is pointing out that prayer works some change within the life of the person praying.  It makes us more aware of our need, it places our thoughts before us, it gives us courage to strive after the blessings we seek.  It is not about prevailing upon a reluctant God who will only give us what we ask for if we beg.

I believe that prayer creates a “God-space”in us.  Prayer opens up our spirits to God’s presence, allowing God to some room in our souls.  And that’s where the change begins.

In our Thursday night healing service, we are fond of pointing out that healing does not mean “curing”—that we don’t mean that everyone who comes to services with the sniffles will walk away afterwards cold-free.  But, we emphasize spiritual healing, coming to peace with the things life gives us and opening ourselves up to the possibilities.  In so doing, however, we affirm the possibility of the miraculous.  We do not deny God the power to make a difference through curing. And in fact, when we open ourselves up to God’s healing power and accept that we may have to face our afflictions, paradoxically, is when real healing can take place.  When curing can take place.

In the same way, when we open ourselves up to God through prayer—not in an effort to cajole God into doing what we want—but in an effort to open up a God-space in our souls, we may find ourselves empowerd and blessed in ways we hadn’t realized possible, such that the very thing we seek flows out of this letting go of the thing we seek.  It was a Scottish devotion-writer named Oswald Chambers who wrote: “Our ordinary views of prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer as a means for getting something for ourselves; the Bible idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.”[3]  Prayer first changes us and allows us to come into fuller communion with God.  By that communion, God works God’s purposes in the world.  In our praying, we seek not to get God to do what we want, but seek to be the people God wants us to be.

V.   END

We have developed some bad habits about prayer. We have imagined that prayer is some kind of system for getting the things we want or need.  In so doing we convince ourselves that the one we petition is a despot, or a Santa figure, or like ourselves: unjust, inattentive, in need of cajoling, bargaining, promising, and pestering.

But God is not like an emperor of old, with whom we must gain audience and before whom we must lay our petitions.  God is not like a unrighteous judge who responds only because we convince him we will not go away quietly.

God knows our needs. God knows our desires.  God seeks our well-being.  And when we pray, we open our souls up to encounter this God.  When we pray, we create a God-space within us, that helps us to see ourselves more clearly.  That helps us to be more aware of our own need, our own dependence.  That helps us to face the road ahead with faith, because we have opened ourselves to that divine presence.

And when we do that, we find that we are transformed.  The prayers we pray to get what we want do not change our lives as much as opening ourselves up to the God who can transform those very lives.  And being transformed ourselves, we become agents of a transformation of the world itself, changing it into the very thing we would have prayed for.

 


[1] W. Stephen Gunter, The Quotable Mr. Wesley, p. 37. (quoting John Wesley, Explanatory Notes: Matt. 6:8.)

[2] W. Stephen Gunter, The Quotable Mr. Wesley, p. 36.

18 thoughts on “9 Lies You Hear in Church: #2. If You Pray Hard Enough, God Will Answer

  1. To me God is my father. And since I know he loves me unconditionally and is trust worthy I sometimes pray, “Dad I really want this… and I tell him please just do what is best for me.” I don’t demand and sometimes I do ask repeatedly but it lets me realize that this is really that important to me and then I am able to talk more clearly. Its like something about or connected to it gets revealed and then I can work on it. Its always bothered me viewing God as a tyrant who you have to grovel to get things from. I pray sometimes just to talk with him about how I feel. Actually I talk pretty much everyday, almost all day sometimes, to him about life and I look to him sometimes with things that come up. I don’t expect him to give me everything I’m asking for but I know he has what is best for me and that I can come to him even in disappointment and he will love me just the same.

    1. I can come to him even in dissapointment and i know he will still love me just the same? Did you mean you will still love him when your disappointed? Or you have done something to disappoint him? I dont expect him to give me everything i want? I thought Abba knows what our needs are and wanting is not needing. Its just my opinion but it sounds like your convincing yourself if you say the right things about God you will believe he finds favor in you and grants your petitions.

  2. To me God is my father. And since I know he loves me unconditionally and is trust worthy I sometimes pray, “Dad I really want this… and I tell him please just do what is best for me.” I don’t demand and sometimes I do ask repeatedly but it lets me realize that this is really that important to me and then I am able to talk more clearly. Its like something about or connected to it gets revealed and then I can work on it. Its always bothered me viewing God as a tyrant who you have to grovel to get things from. I pray sometimes just to talk with him about how I feel. Actually I talk pretty much everyday, almost all day sometimes, to him about life and I look to him sometimes with things that come up. I don’t expect him to give me everything I’m asking for but I know he has what is best for me and that I can come to him even in disappointment and he will love me just the same.

    1. I can come to him even in dissapointment and i know he will still love me just the same? Did you mean you will still love him when your disappointed? Or you have done something to disappoint him? I dont expect him to give me everything i want? I thought Abba knows what our needs are and wanting is not needing. Its just my opinion but it sounds like your convincing yourself if you say the right things about God you will believe he finds favor in you and grants your petitions.

  3. Philippians 4:6-7 6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    We are supposed to ask and make our petition known. Yes, God is already working upon our behalf, but just like without repentance you aren’t saved- some things are not given until you ask. God is not Santa Clause- but He also isn’t madri gras and throwing out all blessings for nothing. It is part of the process of maturing as a Christian… and yes- I do think the ultimate Goal is just to grow a bigger space for God to fill up and for us to let God serve man through us- but we are not all there yet-
    God will not be mocked or taken for granted and the Bible also says- in James 5: 16-17 The Prayer of Faith…15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

  4. Philippians 4:6-7 6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    We are supposed to ask and make our petition known. Yes, God is already working upon our behalf, but just like without repentance you aren’t saved- some things are not given until you ask. God is not Santa Clause- but He also isn’t madri gras and throwing out all blessings for nothing. It is part of the process of maturing as a Christian… and yes- I do think the ultimate Goal is just to grow a bigger space for God to fill up and for us to let God serve man through us- but we are not all there yet-
    God will not be mocked or taken for granted and the Bible also says- in James 5: 16-17 The Prayer of Faith…15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

  5. Just like Jim McGuiggan (retired Church of Christ preacher and has his own website) told me last year on the phone “it seems that God is not too much into answering prayers.” This man is a Church of Christ elite saying this! So, I know that when his wife Ethel had heart problems since she was born and that turned into major operations off and on throughout her whole life eventually slowly but surely a slow and painful death eventually can’t walk, legs not working, can’t breathe needing tubes, etc etc, when the Church of ChriNNOTHING andmmmmmhers and sisters pray over the years and all Jim and Ethel get is her getting worse then I should have an understanding that since even though I am also Christian (Church of Christ) that none of my peon prayers will be answered.I am not the elite, the cream of the cream, I never wrote books based on bible like Jim did (he is very well known in the Church of Christ community). When the elite over the years prays and others pray on his wife’s behalf but she gets worse then we who are not the elite SHOULD have an understanding that our prayers are NOTHING to God. When the elite still suffer then THAT is the thermometer to the fact that the rest of us are NOTHING and prayers will remain unanswered. When I hear ignorant nieve people say “well, did you pray?” this is what I really hear them say “I just don’t understand why you don’t want God to put your head in a big bowl of raw crushed eggs and pull on the back of your hair raising you up with egg and shells dripping all over your face. What’s the matter with you, don’t you know everybody really wants this?!……..stupid Christian” And, by the way, when the poor Yemin sell their daughters between the ages of 2 -12 for money to men between 30-70 and then they marry on their wedding night (rapping night) they die from internal injuries where was their God. A kicking, screaming, crying child does not know how to pray yet with words but does from the heart. God KNOWS this is not right and is a sin against that child but does NOTHING to stop the rape knowing that the child is going to die from internal injuries. These children are sinless creatures but God lets them get raped. God took Enoch because “he walked with God” but being 365 when God took him he certainly could not have died sinless. These little children are more sinless than Enoch would ever touch the hem of the garment being yet God took him. Therefore, God should have had the attitude ” Fine, fine, so you bad parents are actually going to let this happen to your little child? Then you don’t deserve your child therefore I will take them to Heaven right now and you will never see them again” I will take them like I took Enoch so they won’t have to die from having their vaginas envaded from internal injuries.” If God can take Enoch who was not sinless he just happened to “walk with God” meaning he just talked to him constantly all the time then He SHOULD either take those sinless little girls right then and there to Heaven or STOP them from being raped!!!!! So, here is the other thermometer, when God does not protect the most innocent of innocents, then YOU SHOULD KNOW that your prayers, prayers of a person who more than likely HAS sinned sometime in your life that YOUR prayers will NEVER be answered. And if you did pray and you believe your prayers WERE answered then it was either because you went to the doctors and THEY were the ones that really healed you or you got off your butt and did something about what you wanted like getting a better job. Yeah, we believe that God answers prayers sooooo much that we taint that belief by going to the doctors. I bet people are thinking “no, you should do both” , stupid people, no ye not that there are people who don’t pray and go to the doctor and they get healed? I don’t want to go to the doctors, I want God to heal me, I ONLY want to depend on God. Here’s the deal people, Jesus did miracles, but he died, no more miracle, but hey, we got doctors. God ALREADY built us with an immune system, take care of that and God is already healing you….through the immune system He created. But if you get a broken leg, all the herbs and prayers are not going to do anything. You HAVE to go to the doctor to get it set. Then the healing process that was already created by God a long time ago starts doing its job. God DOES NOT heal you through prayers. You have to get off your butt and take care of your immune system for your immune system to take care of you. Instead of asking to be healed you need to say, “thank you for the immune system you created for us and I know that I will be healed because I took care of my immune system by never smoking, drinking, I exercise, I get enough sleep, I don’t eat a lot of sugar etc etc” or this prayer, I’m so sorry I didn’t take care of myself but I will start now so that the immune system you created will do a better job.” When the sick and dying are too far gone because of genetics or they let their immune system go downhill for a long time….prayers ARE NOT going to work. If we as the human race believed that God will intervene and heal us with just prayers then people would make fun of each other because they went to the doctors. It’s because God does not go beyond His immune system He created since He created mankind that we go to doctors. Go ahead and pray to God but be aware of the fact that it’s just talk. God will not intervene. He already did that with your created immune system. It’s up to you to take care of it so that it will take care of you. When you get a paper cut or scrape your hand or burn it on something you don’t pray about it, no, no you don’t. If it’s not that bad you just ignore it or, you go put Bactine or neosporin and or a bandaid on it. But your not going to pray about it, your not going to call the church or your family to pray about it because as long as you keep it clean……you will heal. Was prayer necessary? Nope, not at all. But, you could say Thank you to God for the immune system He created. But, what if it’s horrendously bad? Third degree burn, cancer-the aggressive kind, genetic screwups since you were a zygote, broken leg,? God is not going to do anything. You will have to play Russian Roulette with your life by making the decision to go to an OK doctor, Good doctor, Great doctor, Fantastic doctor, The Best in the Field Doctor. You can get cirrhosis of the liver from drinking too much or being obese for too long because you destroyed Gods’ immune system He created. Do you really think prayer is going to fix it? No, duh!!! So you’re put on the list for a new liver and/or you change your lifestyle and continue your doctors visit. The only prayer you can say now is to tell God you are sorry for not taking care of yourself but you will now. God can only work with the immune system YOU left Him to work with. What about genetic problems? Pray? Uh, yeah, when have you read about or seen for yourself that prayers changed a genetic problem? NEVER….NEVER. That’s why we have doctors and researchers trying to find a cure on changing or rearranging genetics. Notice that people years down the road say “oh, if they only had THAT procedure ten years ago they would still be alive.” No one ever says “oh, if only God knew how to answer prayers ten years ago they would still be alive.” Take care of your immune system the best you can for God will not go beyond that. Go ahead and pray/talk to God if it makes you feel better but He is only going to listen. But remember, it takes two to have a conversation so if you want a voice coming back at you then find a human. Viva LA doctors who get off their butts to find a cure.

    1. We are justified by the blood of Christ and therefore we can come to God in prayer with expectation – perhaps not that he will answer all prayers but that God is in dialogue with us. I have been in a lot of life trauma and it actually has been in the depths of sorrow that I find God works through me the most – sometimes God’s work might be illness and testing and while we should always pray for miracles – the miracle is eternal life – and that suffering might have helped her soul in some way not visibly recognizable. God has answered prayers in my life – including medical ones after a major car accident and while I struggle too in wondering why some prayers are answered and others are not – I have learned that the unanswered prayers did not happen because God admonishes me because of my sin, but his love is protecting me from something I later found out was not good for me. We cannot see God in black and white – God is all good, we have sin – but God would not have died for us and dined with outcasts and sinners if he did not care about reaching out and drawing in the most desolate of souls.

  6. Just like Jim McGuiggan (retired Church of Christ preacher and has his own website) told me last year on the phone “it seems that God is not too much into answering prayers.” This man is a Church of Christ elite saying this! So, I know that when his wife Ethel had heart problems since she was born and that turned into major operations off and on throughout her whole life eventually slowly but surely a slow and painful death eventually can’t walk, legs not working, can’t breathe needing tubes, etc etc, when the Church of ChriNNOTHING andmmmmmhers and sisters pray over the years and all Jim and Ethel get is her getting worse then I should have an understanding that since even though I am also Christian (Church of Christ) that none of my peon prayers will be answered.I am not the elite, the cream of the cream, I never wrote books based on bible like Jim did (he is very well known in the Church of Christ community). When the elite over the years prays and others pray on his wife’s behalf but she gets worse then we who are not the elite SHOULD have an understanding that our prayers are NOTHING to God. When the elite still suffer then THAT is the thermometer to the fact that the rest of us are NOTHING and prayers will remain unanswered. When I hear ignorant nieve people say “well, did you pray?” this is what I really hear them say “I just don’t understand why you don’t want God to put your head in a big bowl of raw crushed eggs and pull on the back of your hair raising you up with egg and shells dripping all over your face. What’s the matter with you, don’t you know everybody really wants this?!……..stupid Christian” And, by the way, when the poor Yemin sell their daughters between the ages of 2 -12 for money to men between 30-70 and then they marry on their wedding night (rapping night) they die from internal injuries where was their God. A kicking, screaming, crying child does not know how to pray yet with words but does from the heart. God KNOWS this is not right and is a sin against that child but does NOTHING to stop the rape knowing that the child is going to die from internal injuries. These children are sinless creatures but God lets them get raped. God took Enoch because “he walked with God” but being 365 when God took him he certainly could not have died sinless. These little children are more sinless than Enoch would ever touch the hem of the garment being yet God took him. Therefore, God should have had the attitude ” Fine, fine, so you bad parents are actually going to let this happen to your little child? Then you don’t deserve your child therefore I will take them to Heaven right now and you will never see them again” I will take them like I took Enoch so they won’t have to die from having their vaginas envaded from internal injuries.” If God can take Enoch who was not sinless he just happened to “walk with God” meaning he just talked to him constantly all the time then He SHOULD either take those sinless little girls right then and there to Heaven or STOP them from being raped!!!!! So, here is the other thermometer, when God does not protect the most innocent of innocents, then YOU SHOULD KNOW that your prayers, prayers of a person who more than likely HAS sinned sometime in your life that YOUR prayers will NEVER be answered. And if you did pray and you believe your prayers WERE answered then it was either because you went to the doctors and THEY were the ones that really healed you or you got off your butt and did something about what you wanted like getting a better job. Yeah, we believe that God answers prayers sooooo much that we taint that belief by going to the doctors. I bet people are thinking “no, you should do both” , stupid people, no ye not that there are people who don’t pray and go to the doctor and they get healed? I don’t want to go to the doctors, I want God to heal me, I ONLY want to depend on God. Here’s the deal people, Jesus did miracles, but he died, no more miracle, but hey, we got doctors. God ALREADY built us with an immune system, take care of that and God is already healing you….through the immune system He created. But if you get a broken leg, all the herbs and prayers are not going to do anything. You HAVE to go to the doctor to get it set. Then the healing process that was already created by God a long time ago starts doing its job. God DOES NOT heal you through prayers. You have to get off your butt and take care of your immune system for your immune system to take care of you. Instead of asking to be healed you need to say, “thank you for the immune system you created for us and I know that I will be healed because I took care of my immune system by never smoking, drinking, I exercise, I get enough sleep, I don’t eat a lot of sugar etc etc” or this prayer, I’m so sorry I didn’t take care of myself but I will start now so that the immune system you created will do a better job.” When the sick and dying are too far gone because of genetics or they let their immune system go downhill for a long time….prayers ARE NOT going to work. If we as the human race believed that God will intervene and heal us with just prayers then people would make fun of each other because they went to the doctors. It’s because God does not go beyond His immune system He created since He created mankind that we go to doctors. Go ahead and pray to God but be aware of the fact that it’s just talk. God will not intervene. He already did that with your created immune system. It’s up to you to take care of it so that it will take care of you. When you get a paper cut or scrape your hand or burn it on something you don’t pray about it, no, no you don’t. If it’s not that bad you just ignore it or, you go put Bactine or neosporin and or a bandaid on it. But your not going to pray about it, your not going to call the church or your family to pray about it because as long as you keep it clean……you will heal. Was prayer necessary? Nope, not at all. But, you could say Thank you to God for the immune system He created. But, what if it’s horrendously bad? Third degree burn, cancer-the aggressive kind, genetic screwups since you were a zygote, broken leg,? God is not going to do anything. You will have to play Russian Roulette with your life by making the decision to go to an OK doctor, Good doctor, Great doctor, Fantastic doctor, The Best in the Field Doctor. You can get cirrhosis of the liver from drinking too much or being obese for too long because you destroyed Gods’ immune system He created. Do you really think prayer is going to fix it? No, duh!!! So you’re put on the list for a new liver and/or you change your lifestyle and continue your doctors visit. The only prayer you can say now is to tell God you are sorry for not taking care of yourself but you will now. God can only work with the immune system YOU left Him to work with. What about genetic problems? Pray? Uh, yeah, when have you read about or seen for yourself that prayers changed a genetic problem? NEVER….NEVER. That’s why we have doctors and researchers trying to find a cure on changing or rearranging genetics. Notice that people years down the road say “oh, if they only had THAT procedure ten years ago they would still be alive.” No one ever says “oh, if only God knew how to answer prayers ten years ago they would still be alive.” Take care of your immune system the best you can for God will not go beyond that. Go ahead and pray/talk to God if it makes you feel better but He is only going to listen. But remember, it takes two to have a conversation so if you want a voice coming back at you then find a human. Viva LA doctors who get off their butts to find a cure.

    1. We are justified by the blood of Christ and therefore we can come to God in prayer with expectation – perhaps not that he will answer all prayers but that God is in dialogue with us. I have been in a lot of life trauma and it actually has been in the depths of sorrow that I find God works through me the most – sometimes God’s work might be illness and testing and while we should always pray for miracles – the miracle is eternal life – and that suffering might have helped her soul in some way not visibly recognizable. God has answered prayers in my life – including medical ones after a major car accident and while I struggle too in wondering why some prayers are answered and others are not – I have learned that the unanswered prayers did not happen because God admonishes me because of my sin, but his love is protecting me from something I later found out was not good for me. We cannot see God in black and white – God is all good, we have sin – but God would not have died for us and dined with outcasts and sinners if he did not care about reaching out and drawing in the most desolate of souls.

  7. My name is Priya. My boyfriend name Prince. We love each other for 6 years and we said to our parents and bring near engagement but suddenly his mom not accepted and separated us. And kept black magic for him to forget me. now he is not at all talking to me. Please help my boy friend and remove the black magic from him and me and make him marry me and make us live happy with true love and together ever. I trust u lord, please be with us ever and Please help us. In Jesus name. Amen

    1. Worry not Priya. If you are a true child of him, then “There’s no divination against jacob,no evil omens against israel.” You can cast out those demons, break the black magic things by yourself in the name of jesus.As you have accepted Jesus, you are given the authority to Command those black magic rudely to get away in the name of jesus.

  8. My name is Priya. My boyfriend name Prince. We love each other for 6 years and we said to our parents and bring near engagement but suddenly his mom not accepted and separated us. And kept black magic for him to forget me. now he is not at all talking to me. Please help my boy friend and remove the black magic from him and me and make him marry me and make us live happy with true love and together ever. I trust u lord, please be with us ever and Please help us. In Jesus name. Amen

    1. Worry not Priya. If you are a true child of him, then “There’s no divination against jacob,no evil omens against israel.” You can cast out those demons, break the black magic things by yourself in the name of jesus.As you have accepted Jesus, you are given the authority to Command those black magic rudely to get away in the name of jesus.

  9. First of all, the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (James 5:16); right off the bat, we know that if you’re not striving to be a righteous man (or if you don’t know and don’t care to learn how to be one) then your prayers are probably not going to be powerful or effective. “God, give me a Cadillac!” = materialistic and, generally, not righteous. “God, please protect us when this crazy new president is elected. Keep us safe, and may Your perfect will be done in all things.” = loving, respectful, and in all likelihood righteous.
    The way that the author is talking about how we perceive prayer is actually rather alarming, and it does speak to the crowd that he associates with. We mustn’t make these statements about the perception of prayer on the (probably erroneous) assumption that this “crowd” is, in fact, composed of TRUE Christians. After all, can one be a true Christian without having at least a basic understanding of one of the most fundamental elements of Christianity (i.e. prayer), a “basic understanding” being its function and purpose? The fact that the author even has to address this as being a “lie you hear in church” speaks as evidence to the reasonable inference that this so-called “church” is really the manifestation of 2 Timothy 4:3-4. If you don’t even know how to talk to God, that means that nobody has taught you, or that you don’t want to be taught. If you don’t want to be taught, how can you be a disciple? A disciple is a student. What I mean is, if the people the author is addressing think that prayer is a means to the acquisition of wants, they don’t need him to tell them what prayer is for at this point; they need him to tell them how to become a Christian. “…The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Acts 11:26. If they claim to be Christians, then they claim to be disciples. Because that’s what “Christian” is; a nickname for the disciples of the Christ. You cannot be a disciple of the Christ if you do not know the Christ, and you cannot know the Christ if you don’t even know how to speak to Him, or how to listen when He speaks to you.

    Second of all, the author leaves out the purest essence of prayer, and I truly do hope that this is innocent or accidental; not once in this passage does the word “humility” appear. Prayer is the act of humbling yourself before the Lord and admitting that you cannot do anything on your own; prayer is humility in all of its forms, be it a prayer of praise or a prayer of distress. Look at Jehoshaphat King of Judah’s prayer, in 2 Chronicles 20: “Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said:
    ‘Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’
    ‘But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.'” God, hearing the people, responds through Jahaziel, saying that the battle would not be fought by them; instead, it was God’s battle (v. 15).
    Here we see the king humble himself and ask for help in front of the whole assembly; you have to understand, in these days kings were not humble. In these days, much like in North Korea nowadays, kings were bent on keeping up a ruthless or god-like reputation. Yet here is Jehoshaphat, crying out to the Lord in front of all of the people of his kingdom–remarkably, even the women and children (v. 13)! God responds to his humility IMMEDIATELY.
    A little later on, we read in v. 22-23: “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.” *jaw drops*
    You see that? The nation humbles itself, the king most of all, and they literally win a war without drawing a single sword. Their enemy destroys itself from the inside out. That, my friend, is called a miracle.

    Of course, Jesus prays in Gethsemane for his cup to be taken from him (Matthew 26), and he was undoubtedly the most humbled man to ever walk the earth; so, why wasn’t this cup taken from him? All you need to do to find that out is read the rest of the verse. “‘Yet not as I will, but as you will.'”

    Let’s not be silly about prayer, as if it should be naturally self-focused. Prayer is about humility, admitting that you are nothing on your own; apart from the true vine, you will wither and die. Prayer is about faith–the faith that you aren’t just talking to yourself like a crazy person, and that someone up there is on your side. Prayer gives us an alternative to anxiety. Believe it, and you will see it.

    Also, side-note: “Prayer opens up our spirits to God’s presence, allowing God to some room in our souls.” Well, friend, the Holy Spirit should already occupy that space, according to Acts 2:38–“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'”

  10. First of all, the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (James 5:16); right off the bat, we know that if you’re not striving to be a righteous man (or if you don’t know and don’t care to learn how to be one) then your prayers are probably not going to be powerful or effective. “God, give me a Cadillac!” = materialistic and, generally, not righteous. “God, please protect us when this crazy new president is elected. Keep us safe, and may Your perfect will be done in all things.” = loving, respectful, and in all likelihood righteous.
    The way that the author is talking about how we perceive prayer is actually rather alarming, and it does speak to the crowd that he associates with. We mustn’t make these statements about the perception of prayer on the (probably erroneous) assumption that this “crowd” is, in fact, composed of TRUE Christians. After all, can one be a true Christian without having at least a basic understanding of one of the most fundamental elements of Christianity (i.e. prayer), a “basic understanding” being its function and purpose? The fact that the author even has to address this as being a “lie you hear in church” speaks as evidence to the reasonable inference that this so-called “church” is really the manifestation of 2 Timothy 4:3-4. If you don’t even know how to talk to God, that means that nobody has taught you, or that you don’t want to be taught. If you don’t want to be taught, how can you be a disciple? A disciple is a student. What I mean is, if the people the author is addressing think that prayer is a means to the acquisition of wants, they don’t need him to tell them what prayer is for at this point; they need him to tell them how to become a Christian. “…The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Acts 11:26. If they claim to be Christians, then they claim to be disciples. Because that’s what “Christian” is; a nickname for the disciples of the Christ. You cannot be a disciple of the Christ if you do not know the Christ, and you cannot know the Christ if you don’t even know how to speak to Him, or how to listen when He speaks to you.

    Second of all, the author leaves out the purest essence of prayer, and I truly do hope that this is innocent or accidental; not once in this passage does the word “humility” appear. Prayer is the act of humbling yourself before the Lord and admitting that you cannot do anything on your own; prayer is humility in all of its forms, be it a prayer of praise or a prayer of distress. Look at Jehoshaphat King of Judah’s prayer, in 2 Chronicles 20: “Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said:
    ‘Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’
    ‘But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.'” God, hearing the people, responds through Jahaziel, saying that the battle would not be fought by them; instead, it was God’s battle (v. 15).
    Here we see the king humble himself and ask for help in front of the whole assembly; you have to understand, in these days kings were not humble. In these days, much like in North Korea nowadays, kings were bent on keeping up a ruthless or god-like reputation. Yet here is Jehoshaphat, crying out to the Lord in front of all of the people of his kingdom–remarkably, even the women and children (v. 13)! God responds to his humility IMMEDIATELY.
    A little later on, we read in v. 22-23: “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.” *jaw drops*
    You see that? The nation humbles itself, the king most of all, and they literally win a war without drawing a single sword. Their enemy destroys itself from the inside out. That, my friend, is called a miracle.

    Of course, Jesus prays in Gethsemane for his cup to be taken from him (Matthew 26), and he was undoubtedly the most humbled man to ever walk the earth; so, why wasn’t this cup taken from him? All you need to do to find that out is read the rest of the verse. “‘Yet not as I will, but as you will.'”

    Let’s not be silly about prayer, as if it should be naturally self-focused. Prayer is about humility, admitting that you are nothing on your own; apart from the true vine, you will wither and die. Prayer is about faith–the faith that you aren’t just talking to yourself like a crazy person, and that someone up there is on your side. Prayer gives us an alternative to anxiety. Believe it, and you will see it.

    Also, side-note: “Prayer opens up our spirits to God’s presence, allowing God to some room in our souls.” Well, friend, the Holy Spirit should already occupy that space, according to Acts 2:38–“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'”

  11. ” In our praying, we seek not to get God to do what we want, but seek to be the people God wants us to be.” Tell that to the bill collectors. The reason preachers spew forth this garbage is because they realize that god is not going to step in and help so they have to come up with some pius sounding explanation to take up for their god who does not come through. we hear bible verses quoted that god will meet all of our needs. when this doesn’t happen, then we are told that we are asking for “wants” – not needs. Again, another poor excuse to shift the blame onto the prayer when theology doesn’t play out the way it is described. If the only reason for prayer is to make me a person god wants me to be, then I imagine that god would want me to pay my bills on time. In real life, there are many people out there who work full time but just cannot make ends meet. Some people lose their jobs. Then suddenly there is an emergency expense that overwhelms them financially that only divine intervention can settle. Please don’t tell me that god wants to teach us through this experience. tell it to the bill collectors and tax collectors who want to take your home because you don’t have enough to make ends meet. let god work on them to cancel out debts.

  12. ” In our praying, we seek not to get God to do what we want, but seek to be the people God wants us to be.” Tell that to the bill collectors. The reason preachers spew forth this garbage is because they realize that god is not going to step in and help so they have to come up with some pius sounding explanation to take up for their god who does not come through. we hear bible verses quoted that god will meet all of our needs. when this doesn’t happen, then we are told that we are asking for “wants” – not needs. Again, another poor excuse to shift the blame onto the prayer when theology doesn’t play out the way it is described. If the only reason for prayer is to make me a person god wants me to be, then I imagine that god would want me to pay my bills on time. In real life, there are many people out there who work full time but just cannot make ends meet. Some people lose their jobs. Then suddenly there is an emergency expense that overwhelms them financially that only divine intervention can settle. Please don’t tell me that god wants to teach us through this experience. tell it to the bill collectors and tax collectors who want to take your home because you don’t have enough to make ends meet. let god work on them to cancel out debts.

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