Power of Prayer: We Do Not Pray to Control the Outcome

I was on my daily walk and I found myself praying to God concerning a particular situation. As I prayed, I kept thinking things like, “Oh, I should add that, and I probably shouldn’t say this…” As I ended my prayer something didn’t feel right in my heart.

As I continued to walk I thought, “What am I doing? It sounds like I’m trying to control God by saying the “right” thing.”

It’s easy to fall into this thinking that God is supposed to answer our prayers if we are good enough, faithful enough, kind enough, or say the right thing.

We do not control God through our prayers.

We are reminded through Jesus’ healings he often said, “Your faith has made you well. Or “Your faith has healed you.” He doesn’t say your good works, right words, church attendance, or your service has healed you. He says “Your faith” their confidence in Him was what brought healing to their lives.

Gotquestions.org explains it like this: The power of Christ was what effected the cure, but His power was applied in connection with their faith. It is the power of Christ that saves not the power of faith.  Faith is only the instrument, not the power itself.

2 Common Misconceptions with Prayer

I do not control the action; that is a pagan concept of prayer, putting the gods to work by my incantations or rituals. I am not controlled by the action; that is a Hindu concept of prayer in which I slump passively into the impersonal and fated will of gods and goddesses. I enter into the action begun by another, my creating and saving Lord, and find myself participating in the results of the action. I neither do it, nor have it done to me; I will to participate in what is willed.

Eugene Peterson

Eugene looks at the Greek language and discusses the active voice and the passive voice which entails 2 common misconceptions about prayer:

  • The active voice says, “I control the action. I make the gods do my bidding.” This is similar to what pagans do by reciting the right incantation or ritual in order to get a result. Ex: If we do this one thing the rain gods will smile upon us and our crops will grow.
    But before we laugh at how silly that may sound we may also do this when we “perform or recite” something in order to get God’s favor. For example, I will not eat chocolate for 2 days in order for God to give me an answer. Sounds familiar?
  • The passive voice says, “I am controlled by the action. or Things just happen to us.” That’s a Hindu concept of prayer in which I am controlled by the gods. I am destined to be childless because the god of love is disappointed with me.

He then talks about the “middle voice” in the Greek language in which I participate in the results of an action.

So prayer is not an action I control. Nor one where I am at the fate of impersonal gods. But instead, I’m invited by God to enter into what He has done. I don’t do it, it’s not done to me but I willingly participate in what He’s already begun and doing in this world. He chooses to involve us in His story.

God invites us into His plan through prayer.

Focusing on the “A” in P.R.A.Y.

Some of you have been following along in our Praying through the Psalms for Your Children challenge. You can get more information about that HERE.

Today in my Facebook video for this challenge I focused on Psalms 90 and I talked about the “A” in the P. R.A.Y. acronym.

I recently watched Wonder Woman 1984 and of the problems was that they discovered an ancient stone that allowed them 1 wish in return for their most precious possession. Sometimes we confuse God into thinking He is simply at our command and willing to trade 1 wish in exchange for something else–God if you give me that job I promise I’ll go to church. or If you save my dad I promise I’ll stop drinking.

Our Heavenly Father can not be controlled.

We see this throughout the life of Jesus. At the end of his ministry and life when he is in the Garden of Gethsemane what we hear is a prayer of trust and submission not of coercing and control as he moves toward a horrific death on the cross. He honestly shared his heart as he lamented his lot, He humbly asked for his request and He willingly submitted to God’s will knowing that He could trust His Almighty Father.

So we can come to God asking for our request, interceding on behalf of others and the world. In all of it, we ask for His will, not ours because we believe the words in Romans 8:28, “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him…”

We pray to align our heart and desire to His not trying to manipulate or control Him. This is only possible when we know deep in our hearts that He loves us.

But surrender is only possible if we have total assurance that we are safe. We must be convinced that if we let go we will be caught. This assurance only comes when we trust our Heavenly Father.”

Skey Jethani

Here’s a 31 Days of Praying Psalms for Your Children guide with the 31 Prayer verse cards, At a Glance Scripture Guide, Prayer journal guide you can download a copy of itĀ HERE.

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