Friday, May 09, 2014


Is Prayer About "Effectiveness?"

Jonathon Parnell @ Desiring God:
It’s tragic how easily we can miss the main ingredient in effective prayer.

In our sin, we’ve been rewired to focus on us — on the steps we should take for our prayers to be heard. We have this bent toward believing that every result is born from method. If something works for somebody we want to know what that somebody is doing.

We’ve developed the assumption that if we can just strip it all down to a reproducible process to put into action, then the results will multiply. While this applies to certain things, it doesn’t apply to prayer — or at least that’s not the vision the apostle James gives us. The main ingredient in effective prayer is emphatically not us.


This means that the locus of effective prayer is not us, but God. Prayer has less to do with the specifics of how we say what we say, and more to do with the one to whom we are saying it.

We pray as ordinary people who have an extraordinary God. We’re just normal, you and I. We’re just normal like Elijah. Prayer is effective, not because of great men who pray, but because of a great God who in Christ graciously hears his people.

He’s the main ingredient. So pray.
I cannot argue with the assertion that it is God that makes prayer work. But I Have a real problem with appealing to our baser desire to make prayer "effective." What would qualify as "effective" prayer? Getting what we ask for?

I suppose that a case could be made that if we follow this guy's ideas, eventually the Holy Spirit will work on us until we understand that prayer is not measured by its "effectiveness" in changing the world around us, but I have a real problem with appealing to the lesser in us in hopes of achieving the better. At a minimum such makes the Holy Spirit's work in us harder. Not only then will He have to overcome our baser nature, but he will have to overcome the fact that we will think pursuing our baser nature is a good thing.

God always gives us our hearts desires, but often he does so by changing our hearts.


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