Recently, I was going through a very hard time in a few relationships and wanted support in prayer from my brothers and sisters in my church family. I texted a few friends
and told them my prayer need.
Then I called up my church elder and explained all the details of the problem to him,
and he prayed with me.
I was certain there needed to be more prayer, so I called up a senior Christian, to take his advice as he was experienced in such matters. He helped me out, and I asked him to pray for me.
Did you see it?
My focus was on telling others, not on me praying to the Lord.
I never really paused and took time out to pray about the problem, especially after telling my church elder. Later, I realised that this pattern had set hard into my spiritual life, like firm concrete, for many months. But what is wrong, you ask, in asking the church community to pray for a problem? Nothing. What is wrong in asking a pastor or elder or older person to pray for a pressing need? Nothing. That is a good thing!
What is wrong in getting more prayer support so we might feel better about the prayer being answered sooner?
Everything could be wrong about that question.
My manner of requests for prayer, betrayed a dangerous belief that God answers prayer based on the praying person’s spiritual maturity or experience. I might have been believing and living a corrupted, unbiblical version of pure truth. Here is a sample-
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your pastor make your requests known to God”. This used to be Phil 4:6.
“Let your parents & spiritually mature friends ask, and it shall be given to you; they will seek and you shall find; the elders shall knock, and it shall be opened to you.” This used to be Matt7:7.
“Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Let your accountability partner ask and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.” This used to be John 16:24.
I am afraid in my incessant, desperate efforts to gather others for successful answer to my prayer, I embraced these unholy versions of Scripture. You see, once a person becomes a child of God, God does not keep conditions for prayers to be heard and answered based on our spiritual maturity. He instead hears them based on the merit of His Son’s death & resurrection.
Unlike other faith systems of this world, Bible-based faith never allows people’s tasks to gain merit before God.
His beloved son Jesus’ death is the reason why any Christian’s prayers are answered. Yes there is place for “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear ”, but let’s not behave as if we have a Father in heaven who indulges in favoritism, or who is dependent on spiritual maturity to answer.
He is a great, great God, merciful, compassionate, loving the unlovable. He LOVES to hear His children speak to Him.
One of the dangers of being in a church setting with a history like Marg’s is that we can get focused on a few ‘key’ people. And by that I mean a church upbringing that erred on putting importance on just certain gifts like preaching while neglecting other gifts.
Is this not the same sin that is revealed when some – not all- Christians in India urge their pastor to pray for their new car or new home? Why should only the pastor or elder pray? Can’t the middle-aged Christian lady’s prayers or the 12-year old Christian girl’s prayers reach God soon enough or high enough? What is this, spiritual high jump championship- are only the pastor’s and evangelist’s prayers effective?
The kingdom of heaven is not a pastors -only conference.
Let us have God’s word do some talking on this.
1) And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. Romans 8:26, NLT.
2) There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time. 1Timothy 2:5-6, NLT.
3) But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests,a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 , NLT.
The apostle Peter calls the regular people in the churches he wrote to, royal priests! No religious system bestows such authority and access to accountants, boys, carpenters or daughters as the Way of Christ does. Then it is time I repent of the special qualities I assigned to certain dear people, contrary to God’s Word.
Note : My story didn’t end with a massive change in prayer life. I have much, much to learn, and I do hope for big-time change. But you & I must live like we have a Father who keenly hears even those prayers and thoughts we forget to tell Him.
Do you still feel it’s true that some people’s prayers are worth more than others simply because of their long walk with God?
Have you asked other spiritual people to pray, and neglected or yourself forgotten to pray?
If you stopped doing that, how did you do it? Use the comments section, to share what you know so we all can learn.
“Prayer is the translation into a thousand different words of a single sentence: “Apart from me [Christ] you can do nothing” (John 15:5).”
Reference: Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, Bethlehem Baptist Church, 2002, p. 55. John Piper