WITH BRUCE COCKBURN ON TIANANMEN SQUARE
PIERCE PETTIS - THAT KIND OF LOVE

SURMISING ON "I HAVE PRAYED ABOUT IT AND..."

It has sat uneasily with me for years but as I had this conversation I started to think about something Jesus said and wondered... In the midst of some discussion, debate emails one of the sides of the conversation threw in the old, “Having prayed about it a lot we think...” You can see why it has sat uneasily for so long. There is something about this way of putting an argument that leaves it rather difficult to stay in the conversation. It is a little decisive. It is also very common among the student age that I work in but far from unique to them. “I prayed about it and so I am not... or I am...” As I unpacked it in my own particular context I called my fellow converser, thankfully away from email, and over a cup of coffee. “I’m not sure it is very good in such a discussion to throw in the “Having prayed a lot about it we think...” signature. “Sounds as if you are asking God to be the cavalry in your argument because you are not actually too sure of yourself,” I suggested. “Fair point,” he graciously replied smiling, “That is exactly what we were doing.” Utter respect was my only response to such an honest admission.

I do believe that there are a few reasons why young Christians particularly feel they have to add the “I prayed a lot and...” signature. Their utter fear about not being right throws them down that route. However, that is not where I want to take this blog posting. My concern is more the self righteous nature of it. It is almost a “well I’ve prayed more than you so therefore I am telling you that I must be right...” And I suddenly began to think that this something of what Jesus was saying when he told us to go into a secret room away from everyone when we were praying. This was of course in the middle of the Sermon On The Mount where he was asking his disciples to not be like the Pharisees who are all about show and would pray on street corners to earn their pious points. Isn’t this the same thing? We are flying the flag or our prayerfulness, shouting out our sense of pietistic superiority in order to become better than those around us.

When I am in conversation with a friend or even a brother or sister in some level of conflict, and sought after resolution, I will assume that they have prayed about it and hope that they assume that I have prayed about it and from a place of equal dependence on God’s grace and our looking through the same glass darkly I will discuss from the same flat playing field not lording it over them from a higher plain with my sense of greater piety.

Comments

Paul Hutchinson

Hey Steve

Let me be the first to share with you that I've prayed about this topic, and I feel that you're wrong.

:-p

The insecurity angle interests me. I know how overwhelming it can be to discover that I'm wrong, and that God doesn't come along to back me up in the way I've assigned for him...

Stocki

lol! Paul, you're sharpness is a blessing...

Anastasias

what I have noticed more and more lately is how little prayer
I actually do, bargaining when I'm hanging by a piece of dental
floss from a greased rope yes, raging against the wind in the
machine and who is driving this bus anyway kind of prattle
but real prayer, the kind of prayer that David did, focusing
the entire being on the Presence, the Awe and being in Wonder
rarely ever do I so kneel and surrender...

Stocki

Agreed Anastasias... Our world is more loud abd bright to stop than David's probably was BUT that is more reason for us to discipline the stopping and the praying... Listening, communing and as yous ay surrendering... Thank you for the challenge...

Sam Moore

Great stuff Steve, so often we can play the God card as an excuse for what is actually subtle manipulation...

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