Friday, August 31, 2007

Vacuous Prayers

I was recently at a meeting (you weren’t there!) where someone led in prayer. They had prepared a prayer (no sin in itself) and this only added to the problem. It was one of those “prayers” with content addressed more to us listeners than the Listener. Plus, it was chock full of requests that, to be honest, were of no interest to God.

That may sound harsh, to say that God took “no interest” in the things asked for... but I base that assertion on the prayers recorded in the Bible. Have you ever taken time to read the prayers of Scripture? It is a glorious exercise and will teach you more about prayer than any book or seminar.

For instance, in my devotional time this morning I was reading Colossians. Consider this prayer:

“1:9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

To break this prayer into two simple statements, Paul tells the Colossians, “I am praying that your knowledge of God will increase exponentially so that your sanctification will deepen correspondingly.”

Now that is something to pray for one another!

In fact, a growing knowledge of God (an intimate, relational depth in knowing Him) is prayed for throughout the Bible. Which leads me to this simple conclusion. The next time you pray publicly, why not pray for yourself and the people around you that you will know God through Christ more deeply, and that such knowledge will intensify your zeal to live like Him in this world?

Modeled prayers, when appropriately appropriated, are sure to be answered!


  1. A tremendously helpful post -- thank you!

    David Reimer

  2. Compare also Paul's prayers for the Ephesians (1:15-19)and the Philippians (1:9-11) and even the Thessalonians (II Thess. 1:11) Remarkable.

  3. This is very helpful. It goes along with my suspicions that much of what is raised as a 'prayer request' is disguised gossip and many 'praises' are really boasting.

  4. Hey Kerux,
    It would be okay with me if, at the end of each such prayer you offer up for yourself and those around you, you would add, "And derifter too."


  5. It seems to me odd that although we are called to pray at all times, we are not, apparently, called to pray about all things. It also seems some combination of arrogant or foolish to me that the Lord Who Made The Details wouldn't care about the details. As if there was some limit to His love for us, that our details would not matter to Him. That is not a God who I could truly and fully love, who does not truly and fully love me.

    PS: I'm with you on the gossip-rag praying, though.

  6. Hidden -
    I think it obvious that God cares about the details, since He controls them all. He cares so much about them that we are called to cast all of OUR cares on Him... once we have humbled ourselves under His mighty hand. But that very acting of "throwing" our cares on God, combined with not being anxious since "each day has enough trouble of its own" proves my point, I think. There are much bigger, grander, more noble things to pray about than who wins the next election.