Active Prayer

Active Prayer: Turning, "I'll Pray for You!" Into, "How can I help you?"

Turning, "I'll pray for you." Into, "How can I help you?"

Here's an example of what I'll be discussing today:

John Doe posts on Facebook: “I am really struggling, I lost my job, and I will possibly lose my house if I don't come up with an extra $100 this week.” Nine people respond with: "I'll pray that God will provide for you." Then one guy gives John $100. The nine people then say: "Look our prayer worked!" and go on about their day. This bothers me because if all the people would have given $10, then there would be no need for a prayer/prayer fulfillment scenario. Instead of everyone giving a little, one person gives a lot. This example includes money, but you could replace money with time, work, or anything else, and it would still be just as strange. 

Please don't read this wrong, I'm NOT saying not to pray, but why not also be the fulfillment of other people's prayer when you can?

  • If someone is starving and you have an extra meal. Don't pray that they will find food. Give it to them.

  • If someone is in a bind financially and you have $100 that you were about to spend on your 20th pair of shoes. Don't pray that they find money. Forget about the shoes and help them out.

  • If someone you love doesn't believe in Christ, pray for them, but then find a way to love them. Show them the Gospel.

We have to get off our couches and stop making prayer a substitution for action.

This convicts me to the core. It's so simple.

If you have a family member that isn’t a Christian, and you approach God every day asking Him to soften their heart so they can come to know Him, but you never actually tell them about His love or compassion, then who will?

I’m all for praying for lost loved ones, but I’ve sat in churches where people have prayer lists as long as my arm and wondered why we don’t just stop and call all the people on them and tell them that God desperately wants them to come to Heaven. I've also sat in churches where the pastor preaches this amazing message on evangelism, then the church prays for the city. Just once I want someone to say, "Alright, stand up, we are going to walk outside and find one person each to pray with in our city today." When I bring up these thoughts to my Christian friends a lot of them make points about how it would be irresponsible because people would leave your church if they didn't feel comfortable. If your fear is that by provoking action, people will get offended and your church might die, then I don't know why we are even there in the first place.

I understand the supernatural aspect of prayer, and that there is an enemy. I just don’t grasp why we act like there’s still a battle to win. Jesus already won. Go tell people that. It’s the Good News of the Gospel.

I've always felt strange about the “I'll pray for you scenario”, so I may not be the best authority on this subject. I have a hard time understanding intercession, because I believe that God wants all people to come to know him. Praying that He will show Himself to someone from my closet doesn't makes any sense. It feels like I'm saying: “Do what you want to do. You have my blessing.” I know that's not the case, I just don't totally understand it. I understand prayer for communion with God, just not praying on other people’s behalf unless they are there agreeing with me. I feel like it would be like you saying: “Devan, will you please show Violet that you love her.” Obviously I'm going to do that. It's what I WANT to do.

After saying all of that, I still pray for others, but I’m also convicted if I don’t actually do anything afterward. I ask God to open people's eyes all the time. I guess it’s just habit. I’m not trying to make you feel bad for praying or deter you from it. I just want to always inspire making connections with those people as well.

*If you want a good scripture parallel to my opinion on this subject, then read John 17. John recorded Jesus’ prayer before his crucifixion. Jesus prayed for Himself, then His disciples, then the world. After he prayed, He got up and laid down his life for the salvation of humanity. He didn’t just pray and wait. He took action.

Now that I've poured myself much too tall of a glass to drink by saying my prayer needs to be followed by action. What do you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.