[Jesus said,] “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” (Matthew 21:22 NLT)
Name it and claim it! That’s what the preachers of the prosperity gospel shout. Prayer is about getting what we want from God, pure and simple. And if you aren’t getting what you want, say the TV preachers, it isn’t God’s fault. It’s yours. You must not have enough faith.
Um, no. Somehow I don’t think that God likes being reduced to a cosmic vending machine. Put your money in the plate, push the right buttons, and (ka-thunk) out drops a miracle? It is a little more complicated than that.
But prayer can be frustrating for many. They don’t know how to talk to God. They don’t feel worthy to talk to God. Maybe they don’t feel like God hears their prayers. Some might even wonder a little bit if God is even out there listening.
Praying is much more than asking and receiving, talking and listening. It isn’t just something you do when life bubbles up with joy or presses down with worry. Prayer is more than just words.
One way to think of prayer is experiencing the presence of God. Think about your relationship with your spouse or a friend. You don’t talk all the time. Sometimes you enjoy going fishing together, or sitting quietly and admiring a sunset, or going for a drive and a movie.
We have started a new sermon series on prayer, “More Than Words,” for September and October. This is an exploration we are sharing with other churches in Circuit 9. We’ll be asking some of the hard questions: Why do we pray? How do we pray? What should we pray for? Who’s listening? The answers aren’t simple… but they are worthwhile.
Grace and peace,