I’m going to write some unfiltered thoughts about prayer. By the end you might be somewhat annoyed with me. But hey, what’s new. The Bible’s rather clear on praying for both your friends and your enemies. So I should be covered.
Christians love to talk and write about prayer. If your congregation has vision, value or purpose statements, you’re going to find prayer in the mix. Whether we are championing the right to pray in the public schools or defending the constitutionality of a national day of prayer, Christians are united in the stated importance of prayer.
Unfortunately, our stated value of prayer doesn’t always match the reality of our prayer life. Frankly, many Christians enjoy the idea of prayer far more than the reality of a genuine prayer life.
Consequently, our prayer language becomes somewhat twisted. I’ve provided some examples to drive home the point.
“I pray for you whenever you come to mind.” Translation: I never pray for you, because you never come to mind.
“You are in my prayers.” Translation: If someday I decide to actually pray, you’ll probably be on the list.
“Let me pray about it first.” Translation: The answer is no, but maybe God will change my mind with a burning bush or an angelic visitation.
“Pray for a miracle!” Translation: You’re a Mariners fan.
“Let’s pray.” Translation: The food’s getting cold, the wedding’s starting, the funeral’s ending or you’ve reached your last viable option.
“We should pray for our enemies.” Translation: Something I say after offending the entire audience.
You might say I’m being a little bit harsh or possibly exaggerating the point for comic effect. You’d be right! Even so, I remind you that the appropriate response would be to pray about it.
I’m all for public expression and statements that defend and promote the value of prayer. Even so, I believe revival is rooted in an everyday commitment to the gift of prayer.
Prayer is our right, responsibility and privilege. Prayer is God’s gift of intimacy. Prayer encourages us to love boldly, to forgive freely, and to live sacrificially for our God. Prayer brings the church to a place of humble repentance and dependence.
Prayer teaches me how to die daily. Before I try to change the world, I must allow God’s transformational love to change my life. Prayer shows me how to make room for God’s better kingdom.
Prayer is a powerful force that is rooted in daily surrender. Even so, writing about prayer will do me little good. Unless I’m willing to accompany this article with some time on my knees. With this in mind, “Won’t you join me in prayer?”
“Live from Seattle with Doug Bursch” can be heard 4-6 p.m. weekdays on KGNW 820 AM. Doug Bursch also pastors Evergreen Foursquare Church. Evergreen meets at 10 a.m. Sundays at 2407 M St. SE next to Pioneer Elementary School. He can be reached at www.fairlyspiritual.org or firstname.lastname@example.org.