I thought this one would be about phoning somebody we hadn’t spoken to for a long time, which would have been a bit scary, as (I’ve already said) I don’t like the phone.
Today’s act is all about activating the gift of prayer. Wait, what? How is prayer generous, you ask? When we pray, we spend time talking to a God who lives and moves and acts on our behalf and for the good of those who love him. It’s generous because you’re asking the creator of the universe to do a good thing for someone else. Powerful stuff, folks.
GREEN: Get your local newspaper or flick open your Facebook/Twitter newsfeed. Shoot up some quick arrow prayers for the stories you see listed there.
AMBER: Schedule a regular time throughout the day to pray for newsfeeds or your circles. Write down prayer points or download an app to organise your prayer life (our favourite is Prayer Mate).
RED: Not prayed much recently, or ever? It can seem hard at first but today’s the day to try. Jump over to TryPraying and see what it’s all about. Already a seasoned Prayer Warrior? Why not share the gift of prayer with others today? Order some books from TryPraying to share with others, in person or by leaving them in public places.
You can read the meditation here
So, we’re not phoning people. We’re praying.
Now, for a recently re-commissioned Licensed Lay Minister, I’m not sure that this is something I should admit but…
- Hello, I’m Dormouse, and I don’t really believe that intercessionary prayer has much value.
Gasp! Shock! Horror!
I nearly wrote “I don’t think intercessionary prayer works” – but that made it sound like I was treating God like a slot machine: feed in the prayer, press a button, get your requested answer. But really I’m not convinced…
Yes, I pray (from time to time, & usually in church, where it is “expected”) but when I was doing it on a regular basis I got nothing from it, I didn’t see any tangible results, and I became rather discouraged. I had people say “Ah, yes, but you’re not praying in faith so how do you expect God to answer?”
Well, if I don’t really have faith, how does God expect me to pray in faith? Catch 22 really.
Yes, I have seen answer to prayer (this is the contrariness of my viewpoint) – especially when I ask for a slap-in-the-face-with-a-wet-fleece – but that’s not really intercessionary prayer. The type of prayer that I struggle with is two fold:
- The please-help-all-the-refugees-and-people-in-war-torn-areas (there! I’ve done my bit) kind of prayer. How in heaven’s name do we expect God to help all the refugees etc etc? That to me is an absolutely meaningless kind of prayer; it’s a salve-to-my-conscience prayer. What do I expect Him to do? What can He do?
- The please-heal- (insert name here) or the please-can-(insert name here) find-a-job prayer. Why should God heal Fred, or Henri, or Lauren, and not Gary, or Sharon, or Hélène just because we have prayed for some and not others? Do we really expect that of Him?
I remember reading of a study where people prayed for half the patients in a hospital ward, and not the other half. There was much celebration that those patients who were prayed for were healed more quickly, or didn’t die as much (bad grammar, but you know what I mean) as those who weren’t prayed for. For me, I felt there should be no celebration about a God who, apparently, only did something about certain “named” individuals who had been brought to his attention. Sod the others, no-one’s praying for them.
The Try Praying site offers this on the subject of unanswered prayer: But, agonisingly, some things do not work out and we may question whether God is really there.
The answers may not be understood until eternity.
I can see that, really I can, and I think I believe it too. But it just seems like a real cop-out to me. It isn’t actually terribly helpful. Just a way of saying “Well, we don’t know. But just you wait and see.”
And (I’m on a roll now!) what about the statement in the prompt itself: When we pray, we spend time talking to a God who lives and moves and acts on our behalf and for the good of those who love him.
So does He not move and act on behalf of those who don’t love him? Hmm…
This is all about facing challenges, it’s all about thinking deeply. So, I will order the Try Praying app, I will pray today for others. But I’m afraid I’m not going to really be praying in faith.