Friday, July 13, 2007

The Problem with Church Prayers

Nothing of eternal importance happens apart from prayer!” If I heard Dr. Jerry Falwell say that once in the four years I spent attending Liberty University, then I heard him say it at least a million times. He drilled it into us. It wasn’t just a nice quote to him. It was tested and true. While Dr. Falwell was in Bible College, he got the key to an empty room in his dorm and spent several hours every day in that room alone with God reading his Bible and praying. Everyday, he started his activity with Bible reading and prayer. Dr. Falwell was a man of faith and a man of prayer and God blessed his ministry greatly.

But why is it that so many Christians today have anything but an effective and exciting prayer life? May I suggest a reason? You’re not going to like it. Oh, well, here it goes. I believe that most adults struggle with their prayer lives today because they grew up listening to thousands of prayers offered up in church services. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we should throw out church prayers. In fact, we probably need to pray more in church. But let’s be honest. Most prayers that are made in church services are not stated for the ears of God but rather for the ears of those who are sitting in the pews.

As a result, our prayer lives have become filled with religious clichés that are quoted regularly but without much thought or meaning. I wonder if we even know what we are asking for when we pray things like:

“Bless the missionaries!”

“Bless the gift and the giver alike!”

“Bless the food to our bodies and the hands that prepared it!”

And then there’s the one that bothers me the most. It’s when some well-meaning Christian prays, “God, we know You are with us because the Bible says that where two or three our gathered, You are there in their midst.” Now, come on! Yes, that quote is in the Bible but it is found in Matthew 18 dealing with the issue of confrontation as part of church discipline. Are we to take it that when we are by ourselves, God isn’t there? Of course not. Folks, we need to think when we pray. Sometimes our prayers are like:

“Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
And if he hollers, ‘let me go’
Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Moe!”

Are you ready for a real challenge to your prayer life…one that will stretch you and make you really think and concentrate? Here it is. In every prayer you offer up to the Father this week, do it without using any clichés that you heard in the thousands of prayers you listened to growing up in church. That’s right! Not even one cliché allowed this week!

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