My conservative friends won’t like this but I completely agree with my Liberal friends when they argue “Prayer Shaming.” I think they’re right … not for the same reasons of course, but I think they’re right. We should be ashamed of our prayers.
Peggy Noonan’s Wall Street Journal Op Ed this weekend entitled “The First Amendment Needs Your Prayers” was an interesting read. But what caught my eye was the phrase “Prayer Shaming.”
Since I’m careful not to write about political issues, not because I don’t have strong political beliefs, I do, but because I believe that most Christians take politics in the wrong direction. So if you don’t mind, let me take from this political article the phrase, “Prayer Shaming” and apply it to Christians’ prayer lives. Forgive me, but in a “backdoor” sense I may actually MAKE the point for those that denigrate praying.
Let me first state why I want to stay away from the politics of this article. None of the Christians I know would say that, “Their Salvation is in politics, but,” I would add, “Many of them certainly act like it!” Now don’t get me wrong I believe that every Christian, as good stewards, should vote and should vote their conscience. And I think that ALL of them should be allowed to vote, including “young earthers” like me, regardless of what Neil Boortz says.
But here is the “Prayer Shaming” issue from my perspective. In the church we SHOULD BE ASHAMED of our prayers. And here is why, “Our focus on praying is, on WHAT WE WANT, me, me and I, I.” And I’m sorry but I do not see that in scripture. What I see in scripture Henry Blackaby wrote so well of when he said, and I’m paraphrasing, “Find out where God is moving, what He is doing, and get on His side.”
Our unbiblical praying is constantly focused on giving God advice. I’d rather you just get down on your knees to pray and close your mouth to let Him talk to you. I love Leonard Ravenhill’s famous quote, “Some of the best times I have in prayer is when I say absolutely nothing!” Remember, God doesn’t need your advice. He is the One who spoke the words and the worlds leapt into existence.
One of the talk show hosts has coined the phrase, “Shut up and sing” referring to these great musicians who spend too much of their time talking about politics. I completely agree with her but I would also include us Christians into the mix and I would say “Shut up and listen” when it comes to our praying. We might find, much to our disappointment, that God is more interested in you thanking Him for, and really loving somebody that you vigorously disagree with (Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Now don’t be grumpy at me I didn’t write those verses.
Maybe if you listened to God instead of working yourself up into a frenzy because of what you see going on in our world, which I agree has numerous problems, but maybe if we listened to God more we would find that He wants us to engage those we disagree with, not for the purpose of changing their mind, but developing a relationship with them and eventually introducing them to Christ if they don’t know Him.
Here’s the bottom line that I see in the churches I speak in:
WE’RE FIGHTING THE WRONG BATTLE! And because of that fact alone we should be ashamed of ourselves.
The battle we waste our time fighting is the battle of trying to get what WE WANT! We are too busy giving God advice, telling Him how He should run the cosmos. We need to spend more time with our lips zipped shut listening to God, He doesn’t need our advice! What He wants are men and women and boys and girls who follow His Son … and I would add, following Him down a path we cannot go without listening clearly to Him.
My first novel called The Pray-ers (www.ThePray-ers.com) addresses the issue of “Troubles” in our lives through the prayer lives of three prayer heroes. They are from three continents and from three historic eras. In the book we find Thales, the nephew of Epaphras (Colossians 4:12) and Alexander Rich, the childhood friend of D. L. Moody and Dr. Dale Riley the current era pray-er hero handling problems the way scripture directs. In the book you will see them praying about troubles by listening to God and the scriptures.
But you don’t need my book to learn how to pray, just zip up your lips and listen to what God is saying to you.