(Can you help me with) the faith teaching that goes down the road of “Don’t claim that!” and “Just repeat God’s word over and over.” and “We don’t confess that!” and all the teaching that makes it sound like we’ve got to muster up all this faith and if we speak it enough we’ll somehow have it and all that speaking will change us and give us power. This has always bothered me – been there, heard the message, ran the other way a long time ago! But as it’s fresh on my mind thanks to some class notes for an upcoming summer study being left out in the copy room at my office. I’ve looked over them and the meter is screaming in the red.
My response: As far as your question about prayer, I think this stuff is NUTS! There is now right or wrong way to pray. Prayer is not a technique or incantation. Our confidence in prayer is not based on what we are saying or not saying, but the One we are communing with as we simply lean in to being vessels to let his love and power flow through us as HE desires.
Then this came form someone else:
I heard someone speaking the other day about praying for the sick. He mentioned that he had a sister with cancer, and they prayed, but unfortunately, she still passed away. He then learned a lot about prayer, and different kinds of prayer, and realized they had been praying the “wrong way”. He had another sister fall ill with terminal cancer, they prayed for her, and half an hour later, she was healed. The question is. Do you believe there is a wrong way to pray for people? Or a way that we can pray that guarantees healing? It kind of goes against what I feel in my heart, but it’s really twisting my brain. Thought I’d see what you think about it! I’ve been in prayer asking God to show me his heart on prayer.
And now he has a book or ministry to sell with this bait that people can finally get the miracle they want from God by using his secret technique. I hate this kind of teaching, built of an experience that may or may not even be true, but even if it is, it does not prove his premise. Bad teachings about prayer prey on the most vulnerable among us—those with a desperate need and will jump through whatever prayer hoop someone gives them even if there’s less than a 1% chance it will help. No one wants to be left out of a miracle if there’s just one more thing they can do that will finally get the answer they want from God.
But this kind of teaching doesn’t draw us into true faith at all. In fact, it disfigures God by making him our tool to manipulate. Do you remember the kids game we used to play where someone asks for something and says, “Please.” Then, to be mean we said, “Say, ‘Pretty Please.'” They do that and then we add “Say, ‘Pretty please with sugar on top,'” and it continues. Unfortunately that’s how some people view God. He would like to help, but will withhold his blessing until they say all the right words, in the right order, with the right amount of “faith.” And when he doesn’t act, they blame themselves and keep desperately seeking for the formula that will compel him to give us our miracle.
Throw all that baloney out. Anything that makes God a miserly Father making us jump through hoops is absurd. If you think God is more inclined to heal a child’s cancer if one million people on Facebook offer a prayer for him than two or three placing that need before him, you have no idea who the God is. If you’re struggling with a need and think there’s a special way to pray that God will have to answer, then you’re using prayer as an incantation not real communion with him. You will exhaust yourself trying to earn your miracle and in the process only grow more frustrated with God and yourself.
Jesus taught us that all God needs in prayer is a heart that seeks what’s true, a simple expression of our desire, a persistence that allows your trust in the Father’s care to grow, and the passion to see his glory fulfilled above your own convenience . From there he will do whatever is best for you and that may not be to answer your prayer the way you want. Just remember, he cares more for you than you do yourself and he has plans unfolding that you cannot comprehend. So if your miracle happens, awesome! If it doesn’t, then assume something greater is going on than you can see, and just keep walking with him through whatever challenge lies before you. If there’s something more he wants to show you, trust him to do so without your frantic need to find it on your own.
That’s all any of us need to do to live in the unfolding reality of his glory, whether or not things work out the way we want. We are deeply loved by a generous Father and that’s enough to take us through anything.