Without further ado, here it is...
"I’ll pray for you."
"Can you pray about___?"
I hate these phrases. I’m so tired of hearing them.
Prayer is a cop out.
You know I didn’t just say that… Did you just gasp? Was that offensive? Buckle up…
We don’t use prayer for what it is intended for. How much of our prayer is comprised of asking for favors? Please help me get there on time. Please help me pass this test. Please ____…..
Prayer is not a “get-out of jail free” card that is always available to us. I’m talking about times where we pray for God to get us out of tight spots that we’ve put ourselves into. ‘Pray that I can get this project finished before the deadline’, ‘pray that I can pass my test’, ‘pray that I can find my__’, ‘pray that I can start remembering to___’.
That sounds like a self-absorbed toddler asking for a cookie. That sounds like whining.
When we procrastinate, or just don’t take action when we need to, praying about it to work out in our favor anyway, isn’t necessarily the direction that we should fall back on. I’m not trying to limit the things that God can or will do for us, but when we pray for God to help us in these hours of self-inflicted discomfort, I think that we are missing it.
Instead of putting the responsibility on God (expecting/asking him to bridge the gap) perhaps, what we should be asking is ‘what can we learn from this situation?’ Why am I in this predicament in the first place? Is there something that I could/should have done that would have prevented me from being in this position? Maybe we should stop whining and eat our vegetables. (except beets, I really hate beets)
Fail a test you didn’t study for? Next time study.
Didn’t make the deadline for a project? Next time don’t procrastinate, and take care of the little issues that come up before time restrictions turn them into huge ones.
Always late? LEAVE EARLIER/SET YOUR ALARM EARLIER (sorry, this one is a pet peeve)
Why do we pray for things that God has given us the tools to take care of ourselves? It’s like asking your mom cut up your food for you… WHEN YOU’RE 19!! C’mon man!!
The next step of this process is to doubt God... Stay with me. When we ask God to do things (that we likely could be fixing ourselves with some adjustment to our own lifestyles and self-discipline) what happens when he doesn’t? What happens when we fail that exam, miss a deadline or get a ticket when we were speeding because we were late? God didn’t let you down. You did. It’s your fault.
It was your foot that was on the gas instead of the brake, and you ran the red light, and you got a ticket, and that made you late, and you missed your class, and you couldn’t take the test, and you failed the class… Why did this happen to me?! Where were you God?!?
Whether we realize it or not, by deflecting so much responsibility onto God, instead of trying to learn from situations we put ourselves in, his lack of “fixing everything” subconsciously affects our faith.
In spite of your prayer request at Bible study, you didn’t pass your test. You didn’t get to work on time even though you asked for green lights. Well if you prayed for help and didn’t get it, maybe it’s not that helpful to pray. Maybe you’ll get tired of praying if it’s not going to make much of a difference anyway.
Prayer can be a very powerful thing. We have the privilege of entering the very presence of God.
Think about that for a second.
Think about it again.
I’m not saying that he doesn’t care about how you do on that test, but if you didn’t put the work into it, why are you asking him to fix it for you? Would you meet the President of the United States and ask him for help doing your laundry you haven’t started yet? That’s not gonna happen (Thanks, Obama!!).
God cares about you very much. His son DIED FOR YOU. Of course he wants the best for you. He has counted the hairs on our head. He holds the cells together that your body is comprised of. He has given you dreams and abilities. OF COURSE HE CARES ABOUT YOU!!
My point isn’t to forget about asking God for help. My point is that there are lessons we need to learn about our own lack of self-discipline and responsibility instead of deflecting it all back to God.
Ask for prayer about that test, but study first. Ask for help with that presentation at work, but know your stuff. God cares about you more than anyone else ever will (sorry, dude). But we need to make an effort as well.
Pray. Pray without ceasing. Believe that God will answer you. Leave the situation at his feet, but go hustle and do the stuff that you are capable of doing. Do you worry about the salvation of your neighbors? Just praying about it doesn’t comprise the extent of your responsibility. How is your testimony? How is your attitude? What do they hear when you’re in your backyard? Do you have a “godly” bumper sticker on your car? How do you drive? Are you speeding? Texting? Running red lights?
What about promising to pray for someone? I think half the time someone says that is so they can sound like they care and end the conversation. Especially after church when I’m hungry and the game is on. Yea, I’ve done it. We mean well, but if we really believe that asking the God of the universe to help someone’s situation… why wouldn’t we actually do it??
We are all human. We all have flaws and make mistakes and get irritated and have bad days. It happens. What if our prayers were comprised of thanksgiving instead of ‘help me do everything?’ What if we looked for our part, and got busy? What would change if we really believed that the God of the universe really hears and answers our prayers? What if we think about how we sound when we stand in the very presence of God while we talk to him? What if we stopped whining?
Maybe we need more perspective. Maybe we need to get busy. Maybe we need to start really praying.