Dear God …


I have a question. It’s about all this worship and prayer and gratitude stuff. You see the more I get to know you, the more questions I seem to have. Not of you, but of how we seem to treat you.

Because there was a prayer morning last weekend.

Three hours of taking it in turns to pray for the organisation I volunteer for. It’s one of your clubs, you know what I mean – we do this “kingdom work” stuff. It runs on a shoestring, has loads of obstacles, is meant to be supported by the local churches (but they are not really that keen), stuff is always breaking down, money is always in short supply, there never seem to be enough volunteers … the usual really.

So they organised a prayer morning. Forget the bit about me being miffed because I thought it was a training day – except when I turned up I found that had been cancelled and the prayer stuff was instead of the training. I know … I was a bit grumpy and walked out in a huff. But forget that for now …

This prayer morning puzzled me.

Because if you are who I think you are …

Why does a bunch of people all asking the same thing over and over make you listen any better? Is this prayer stuff like a bazaar – everyone shouting to be heard – everyone trying to attract your attention – everyone shouting louder and longer just to be heard. Is that what this prayer stuff is all about?

If you are “Love” … perfect Love … pure Love … without a smidgeon of badness …

How does repeating the same things over and over make you say yes? How does that make you hear any better? Why should it stand any better chance of making you say okay? Do you really work that way?

Because if you are who we all say you are – then we don’t need to shout – we don’t need to gang up on you – we don’t need to get you to change your mind – to say “okay” to the list of “please will you do this or that or the other.” Because everyone says that you answer every prayer. Just not in ways we might even – or ever – understand.

And then when you and me chat away together … you tell me stuff …. you guide me with stuff … you show me stuff … you help me. Sometimes just by saying nothing at all. In fact quite often by saying nothing at all.

I have never got the impression I can get you to say yes by just repeating myself over and over again. And it seems odd to me – I see people who say that, and then see them joining in a prayer mob (sorry … a prayer morning) for this organisation.

And then I see the same thing over and over – a day of prayer for this or that, admired prayer warriors, world prayer day, I will pray for you offers, prayer lists, prayer circles, please all pray for … The list goes on and on (and on).

So this is my question. Do you listen better if I get a bunch of us to keep on and on at you? And if it works that way … Why?

Thanks God.

Love you –

Paul
xxx

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29 thoughts on “Dear God …

  1. Or do we end up listening to God that much more?
    Actually, forgot about a mob repeating the same requests, there’s not any point in one person praying anything in their shopping list to God, is there? He knows what’s going on anyway.
    A good topic to discuss further!

    • Thanks Keith. And this was one meant for discussion – the word “prayer” is used more often than perhaps any other in this relationship with our Lord. I have a curiosity (and two “thoughts from God” – through/from other godly people) to add to the conversation.

      • I think the latest reblog from realchange4u says something very important. We often tend to think that prayer is “me talking to God” – usually with a list of demands. Sometimes we’re enlightened enough to accept that it is also a matter of “listening to God”. But I think the reality is bigger than that. Corporate prayer does have (or should have) a place to play in a group of Christians getting to a point where it becomes clearer what God is asking them to do about a situation or how to react/feel about it. The root of the word “pray” doesn’t just mean “ask”, but “entreat” or “beg” – that’s a bit more energetic! (Interestingly the word “precis” probably comes form the same Latin stem – now there’s a timely warning about long-winded prayers!)

      • Tom writes good! And someone said to me some while ago that prayer is the connection with our God that allows our hearts to be channelled / guided / opened / connected in a way that enables.

        “Concise (or longwinded) begging” – now that opens up a whole new stream of thought!

        “Corporate prayer does have (or should have) a place to play in a group of Christians getting to a point where it becomes clearer what God is asking them to do about a situation or how to react/feel about it.”

        Keith, if you want to expand (and I “pray” you do) please email me a piece of writing that I can add as a “Keith post” here – in the (hopefully) ongoing conversation for others to comment below.

  2. Well Paul, there isn’t enough room for me to make a thorough comment, but we are commanded to pray, as you know. Sometimes, I agree it can get carried away and if it turns into a better pray-er competition then the purpose is defeated. Keep thinking! I😀

    • Levi – Tom has added a couple of posts which seem to me perfect for adding to the conversation here. The question was sincere and intended with love. Please – if you have the time – write whatever you have in mind and I will reblog. Because it seems to me this “prayer” word is bandied around perhaps more frequently than any other. And some of the unquestioned “assumptions” within the topic puzzle me.
      ((hug))

  3. Good has never been afraid to answers questions brother. Keep on asking them. God delights in that about us. It’s called relationship. How else are you going to hammer out your walk with God of you don’t doubt or am questions. Good gives clear instructions on prayer. I think sometimes folks just get alot on their plate. Then they just want to give it to God. He can handel it. I was raised assembly of God. Man some of those brothers get a hold of you and is like hey man I got to go to the bathroom here. All kidding aside. I think sometimes are just doing what we thinks best. Nothing says we have to partake of those long prayer warrior’s prayers. Your on the right track. Questions, wondering, God loves you and so do I.

    Much love Tom

    • Tom – whether you and I meet in this life or the next: I am going to make a beeline for your words and heart. Thank you for the two additions to this conversation – I honestly wonder whether we each use this “let’s prayer” phrase in a way which makes sense to our Lord and Father a lot of the time.

      Thank you 🙂

  4. I don’t think I could ever say amen loud enough for this. I’m all for prayer. Prayer works. But I don’t think we need to treat God like a toddler and keep repeating ourselves over and over again. I’m confident it gets my prayers the first time. I may pray for something (again) as I am lead by the Spirit to do so.

    Some prayer mobs?! are more for the benefit of people than God. I think some people enjoying praying in the presence of others where they can be seen and appear “holy” or dedicated or whatever. Not everyone, but lots of people do.

    I think Levi is correct when it become a prayer competition and the “event” overshadows the communing with God and people can’t hear from Him because they are too busy making demands.

    Just my thoughts, I’m right there with you. Sometimes these prayer “events” are too much for me. I know I would have been 99 degrees hot if I’d arrived for “training” only to find it was a prayer breakfast instead. That may be “bad” to admit but I know myself that well. I’ve not yet become the sweet mild mannered little that’s buried waaay deep inside me…somewhere…

    • Lilka – please give me a great big hug ((hug)) 🙂

      I wrote this last night with a frown and a ponder. And yet with a sense this topic is so often “off limits” for questioning: I love God, I pray. We love God, we pray. Knees please and be quick about it. End of.

      Levi’s comments? I would so love to see and read his thoughts. Not to “find out how to pray” – more to remove the veil of assumptions. I scanned Biblegateway this morning for “pray and prayer” – and (at first glance) what comes back is a personal activity. Not an answer, not a “how to” – just more thoughts.

      Then Tom – added two more parts to the conversation – and his thoughts are so very very welcome! I would love to have reblogs and more reblogs on this topic – maybe even He would like this one aired and shaken a little?

      🙂

      • I think so!

        Down here in the Bible Belt people pray a lot! But I often find these same people still searching desperately for God

        I think when we are still and listen for a moment (or two) we can hear Him in the whisper and actually be able to speak with God and not AT Him.

        This would make for an interesting topic for me, I’m sure. I’d probably offend some traditionalist by suggesting a fresh approach but your post does make me think…

      • I love your comments and thoughts. Should you take the topic further … Let me know. Even with the responses and conversation, it stills feels like scratching the surface when discussing “group prayer” as I know it.

      • I guess the words of Jesus shouldn’t be my “cop out” prayer, but that is what I fall back on when I just have nothing else. Glad you had a good trip! We met a nice couple from Wales while we were gone and they too were enjoying a “holiday”.

      • Thank you. Looks like you had a great one as well (judging from the “holiday blues post” 🙂 ). Wales is wonderful country. Just that they all talk funny there!! 🙂

  5. Do you remember that bit in Acts 12:1-18 of Peter’s miraculous escape from prison? The Church were so busy praying for him that they didn’t realise when he was at the door.

    ” He went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people were gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognised Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”
    “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept on insisting that it was so, they said,
    “It must be his angel.”
    But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.” (Acts 12:12-16) (NIV)

    This makes me laugh so much. Even the early Church didn’t understand the power of prayer. I think God may often have a wry chuckle at our expense.

    • Good morning Julia – I do indeed – and I chuckled as well! As I am sure He did as well!

      The power of prayer. Intellectually I understand. Emotionally in my soul – still curious. 🙂

      • I am not certain that you detected my note of irony in my comment above.
        On a tangent, though still connected with prayer, I had a bad praying experience when I was younger.
        I was training to be an Occupational Therapist in a well known city down south. One Sunday morning, I decided to attend a large Church in the middle of the city which had a reputation for being hospitable to students. At the end of the service there was a welcome area where new people could go to meet regulars. I met a young man there who invited me for an evening meal at his shared house. I accepted his hospitality. In my view, it was a gesture of friendship, not a date.
        When I arrived at the allotted time, I was met at the door by his room mate. His room mate informed me that my host was praying in an upstairs room with another inmate of the house. The room mate kindly said he would sit with me to keep me company while I waited. We sat downstairs in the living room and exchanged small talk. I think we ate a meal together. We continued this inconsequential chat as the minutes ticked by turning into hours. I think he was as embarrassed as I. It grew dark.
        Finally late into the evening my host arrived, apologised for being indisposed for the entire evening and walked me to the bus stop. To add insult to injury, a drunken bloke attempted to grope me on the bus during my journey home.
        Luckily I was a Christian. If I had not been one, it would have put me off this peculiar religion of Christianity very thoroughly.
        Going back to the story of the early Church, who for goodness sake were they praying to? Peter (and God) were outside knocking on the door being ignored?

      • Julia – I love irony! That same passage was one which “hit home” some time ago. And has been – at a serious level – a marker ever since.

        Susan in her comment below (or above?) uses the phrase “hot button” about the subject of prayer. I think “hot buttons” are too often “papered over” – and that this word “pray and prayer” is also papered over.

        As you say: “Luckily I was a Christian. If I had not been one, it would have put me off this peculiar religion of Christianity very thoroughly.”

        (but at least you got groped on the way home!!) 🙂

        My response would have been a little more forthright and loud!

        And as this conversation meanders, I am also wondering why each of us seems to hold “prayer” with such reverence.

  6. I had to lol at “prayer mob”. He is all about relationship though. Prayer connects us to Him and He connects us to each other as we do this together. He unifies us. He doesn’t change- but He certainly changes us and our hearts when we earnestly seek Him. I think it’s more about hearing from Him than Him hearing us.

    • Hiya Julie, your phrase “He unifies us” is lovely! And the “more about hearing from Him” seems to be a recurring theme. It’s just that my experiences are more of heads bowed, speak speak from someone, eyes open and move on. The listening element seems to be off each other mainly.

  7. I understand a few people getting together to pray ( when 2 or 3 gather in my name) to bolster each other, or pray for each other. But we are clearly called to pray in private, so I don’t really get the “prayer mob” thing either, unless we’re praying for someone else, as for healing, or as the people in Acts did for Peter’s release. I believe in the power of prayer, and also believe that prayer is a form of communication in our relationship with God.

    However, when we only pray for ourselves (or for our organizations), even under the guise of spreading the gospel or building the kingdom, I think that borders on what James called our own passions. We need to sometimes pray about what to pray about! I think when we abide in the Spirit, He helps us discern the direction of our prayers – and more often than not, they’re not about us. Yes, it’s important to ask for daily bread, for provision, for forgiveness, and for the wisdom to walk away from temptation. It’s also important to spend time listening, in quiet contemplation of His voice.

    Sorry for going on…kind of got carried away. I guess you hit a hot button in me, too. :-/

    • Dear Susan –

      I have the distinct impression this a hot button for everyone. I also get the impression that to question “prayer” is almost the same as questioning “is there a God”. Slightly dangerous and a little odd.

      “We need to sometimes pray about what to pray about!”

      On a personal level, this conversation is helping me tremendously. I believe in prayer – just not with a blanket approval that “prayer of good – so more prayer must be better” – if it is more and more noise.

      I also question whether prayer is more for our own benefit than His. His way of helping us to figure things out better. His way of allowing us to accept the tough stuff better. His way of guiding us through disappointment and heartache. And His way of helping us build each other up.

      Maybe I am going to the wrong places – like church – because all I ever seem to be part of is one shopping list after another.

      Does this qualify as a hot button on my part?

      🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Yes, all of this resonates with me, Paul.

        I sometimes get “aha” moments when I pray, and sometimes get “aha, dammit” moments as well. I’m certain He communicates with me in ways He knows I’m ready and capable of hearing. Sometimes it’s a gentle whisper; sometimes it’s a smack on the head when I least expect it.

        I’m also certain He hears my prayers for others because I’m guided in specific ways to pray. Whether those prayers are more for them or for me or for Him, I don’t really know – just that I feel strongly moved to do so.

        Again, all of these prayers are in my private space that He created for me. I think church serves a function that’s more social than prayerful. I think it’s great that we come together as a body to worship, and our songs of praise are lifted up corporately to Him. But truthfully, I could easily leave after worship, come home and spend the day with my ‘net church folks. The quality of abiding in Christ and engaging in conversations like these mean more to me, seem to help me walk closer to Him than sitting silently, being talked at in a building.

      • “The quality of abiding in Christ and engaging in conversations like these mean more to me, seem to help me walk closer to Him than sitting silently, being talked at in a building.”

        Your mention of “private space” is one which recurs in most of these comments. And is close to my own thinking. Who the praying help “for them or for me” is also something I wonder more and more.

        Yet as I tap away here, I am reminded of the conversation about “rules” sometime ago. And being surprised that some comments supported rules: making it easier to “know what was what” for some.

        I wonder if “corporate/group prayer” also does different things for each of us.

        And once again I find this church sharing so much so freely – all of which draws me closer to Him as well.

        ((hug))

  8. I think I see what you mean about prayer being a “hot button”and yet we hold it in reverence. At the time of my story, I didn’t think I could criticize my Christian yet absent friend because he was PRAYING. However the outcome was that I didn’t meet him again nor attend his Church. I found a smaller, (less exciting) Church where I was genuinely welcomed.
    As my relationship with God has matured, I am more able to discern what He and I can handle together. So I doubt you will find me at your ‘prayer mob’ meetings.
    As an aside, please don’t jest about my being groped, even lightly. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, although not the worst I have had by any means.
    Keep on thinking and pondering… it gets us all talking!
    Julia

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