Is Prayer a Currency to You?
I had never looked at it in that light until I began to read Incense and Thunder by Dudley Hall. I had just settled down on the plane after offering up my take-off prayer and had not read half a dozen pages before being confronted with this idea. It made me pause. It made me slightly bewildered. It made sense.
Prayer as a currency. We pray for what we want. This in itself is not unbiblical. Jesus told us to. But am I wrong in thinking that if I pray enough or more than someone else that I’ll come out ahead?
How we use prayer can get muddled and off-track very easily. Like anything else in our life we can start off with good intentions and the right foundation, but semantics, opinions, desires, or laziness can quickly detour a person.
I was in a prayer meeting once when a woman kept encouraging (or hounding) us all to pray more. We obviously were not praying enough since this one man we knew was not being healed. I didn’t understand at the time why that really bothered me. Now that I look back, I see it. Prayer was being used as a currency not as the communication tool originally intended.
If I pray for a job and I pray night and day and with all my heart, what does it mean if I don’t get the job? That I didn’t pray enough? Wasn’t good enough? What if the other candidate is doing the same thing? Prayer becomes a tool instead of a resource.
When the Lord’s Prayer was given, it was communicated to us that praying to God is more than giving Him a list of requests. It is acknowledging Him, calling out to Him, consciously noting that He is the provider of your needs and wants, and stating that in the end you only want what is in His will.
When we pray to God, we are communicating to Him our submission and acknowledging His rule. How is that shown in continually going to Him on the same issue and demanding only one result?
Several years ago my father was diagnosed with liver cancer. He was told that without treatment, he had 3 months. With treatment he had 9 months at the most. Did I pray to God to heal him, to comfort him, to comfort us all? You bet I did. But there was a difference in my prayers compared to many others around me. I was criticized for not praying stronger for his healing. But in my heart, I knew that God would heal him. I KNEW it. It was either going to be by a miracle here on earth, or by taking him to heaven where there would be no more pain and no more tears. My prayer was that whatever method God choose, would be done in a manner to comfort others and my father would be at peace. Would my continual prayer and pleading to God have changed His mind? Is my “lack” of praying the reason my father is dead? No. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
When we come before God in prayer, we are coming to our Lord and King and acknowledging Him as the one who makes the final decisions. He is the one to determine the end. So, why do we think that we can change His mind? Why do we think that the one who knows all and sees all would be swayed by us?
Many would quote the verses in Luke 18 about the persistent widow. But like with all scripture, you cannot take a section alone. The whole Book should be weighed together. These verses describe the widow that kept coming to the king to seek justice. Eventually, he gave in to her requests so that she would stop bothering him. Jesus said with these verses that we cannot give up, but what exactly are we not giving up on?
Are we not giving up on getting what we want? Are we so selfish that we want only what we want?
Maybe we are not to give up on faith and hope.
King David also had a moment of intense prayer that many might have said that he was bargaining with God. The first child he had with Bathsheba was dying. In acknowledgement of God’s power, he prayed and fasted for days for the child’s life. He didn’t think that he had the power to change the Lord’s mind, he just knew that only God could change the outcome. That is shown when the child does die, David rises up from his prayers and resumes his life. He tells all those around him that the Lord’s will was done and he accepts it. David did not give up on faith and hope. He never doubted God’s power.
When we come to God about an issue (let’s say praying for someone who is sick), why are we coming to Him? Praying for healing is acknowledging that in the end God has the power to heal and perform miracles. We are coming before the Great Healer.
So we pray again and again for this. A sign of little faith? No, that would not be correct. It is a sign of hope and of confidence. We know that He can do it so we pray for what we want while asking that in the end it is His will that is accomplished. So we come before Him time and again to strengthen our bond with Him and to remind ourselves of His authority and the submission He requires.
So how should we handle prayer? We should use it as a way to speak to God and to listen to guidance. We should be bringing our needs and desires before Him while asking that in the end it be what He wants for us. Maybe the healing that we are asking for is not what He has planned. Maybe we are not willing to accept His way and think that constant badgering and determination will get us what we really want — our way.
When we think that the quantity and quality of prayer will sway the final outcome, we are using prayer as currency. We think that God’s decisions can be bought and that we can change the plan. While in reality, we need to remember that praying is a way to grow closer to God and let Him know what is on our hearts and share with Him our innermost feelings.
Why do you pray? To get what you want? To convince God that your way is the right way? Or do you pray to feel secure and grow closer to your God?
My prayer at take-off was the same one when I landed.
“Lord, I give You all my fears and ask that You place Your arms around me. Guide the pilots’ hands and be the guiding force of this large machine. I know that You are the one ultimately in control and whatever the flight may bring, may it bring glory to You.”