Prayer Misconceptions: Prayer Is to Convince God to Act

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Have you ever pleaded your case before God in prayer, trying to convince Him to act? Jennifer Kennedy Dean shows that there is no need to try and win God over—He wants to answer our prayers.

Some approach prayer as if it is the responsibility of the petitioner to decide what God needs to do and then talk Him into doing it. This kind of pray-er sees himself as constantly having to overcome God's objections, or His inertia, or His procrastination. This person feels that God always starts out against him and has to be won over. Prayer of this kind pits the prayer against God. It feels like a battle of wills.

As with every misconception about prayer, this error causes the praying person to expend spiritual energy, needlessly, on the wrong target. The person who prays in this way tends to look for the right formula, or the right words to say, or the right order in which to say them. This person is always on a quest to find the approach to God that will finally get Him to act.

This person believes the myth that it is hard to get God to answer prayer. The truth is that God longs to do His work on earth in response to prayer. Prayer is His idea. God thought up prayer, not us. God put prayer into the equation as the means by which my need could find His supply. E. Stanley Jones says it this way, “Prayer is… the opening of a channel from your emptiness into God’s fullness” (Abundant Living).

God answers prayer, but He doesn't follow instructions. God reprimands those who attempt to instruct Him. "Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding?" (Is. 40:13-14).

God has established prayer as the conduit through which His power and provision flow out of heaven and into the circumstances of earth. Jesus prayed like this: “Let Your will that has been done in heaven, now be done on earth.” I’m paraphrasing Matthew 6:10. Why would Jesus pray the will of God from heaven onto the earth unless He knew that prayer was necessary to seeing God’s will activated in the earth?

He doesn’t need our advice, or our suggestions, or our ideas, but He loves our prayers. He rejoices in them. They bring Him pleasure. His heart is attuned even to our sighs and groans, never missing the most inarticulate cry that rises from the hearts of His people.

You don’t have to win God over. You don’t have to convince Him. You don’t have to inform Him. You don’t have to perform empty rituals to get His attention. Just open your life to His power and provision.

Adapted from Live a Praying Life by Jennifer Kennedy Dean. 

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