Lately there have been several news outlets and celebrities giving people a hard time for sending “thoughts and prayers” to victims of tragedies and friends who are undergoing hard times. Just this week I saw that Chris Pratt was being ridiculed for praying for another celebrity who was overcoming a heart attack. People have been ridiculing Christians for saying they are praying for the victims of the school shootings. They claim prayer doesn’t work.
And they’re right.
For many Christians, there is a desire to do something, or there is a call for change, and the immediate reaction is to pray. This is a great response!! Who better to go to in times of need than the one who created the universe?!
But, it seems there are three types of people in the camp of those who send well wishes through touted prayer.
1. The person who says they will pray but doesn’t.
I don’t blame them.
There are a lot of things going on every day. Sometimes it’s hard to pray. What if God isn’t pleased with me? Will my prayers even matter? I don’t have the right words. I’m a weak pray-er.
Really? These excuses do not come from the Spirit of God who lives in you who have devoted your life to Christ. These excuses come from your adversary, the accuser (Satan).
However, if you’re not praying regularly, you will never get better at praying, and it will continue to be easy to say “I’ll pray for you” and never actually do it.
Of course this kind of prayer is not the answer.
2. The person who says they will pray and does.
This group is devoted to trying to help another person through prayer. They are genuine in their statement that they will pray. This group is actively trying to do what is right, but even this group is divided in results.
2a. The person who prays that God will do something.
This is a common prayer, right? “God, please do something about violence in school, or my dying grandmother, or my upcoming test.” We pray to God for many things, and we wonder why those things are not being resolved as quickly as we think they should.
There was once a man who wanted to win the lottery. He prayed and prayed to God to let him win the lottery. The lottery came and went, and he was just as broke, so he prayed once more, “Why didn’t you let me win the lottery?” Then he heard a voice from heaven saying, “You have to buy a ticket first.”
When we pray for God to do something, He wants to act, but the way in which God acts most frequently is through us, people, His children. So many people want God to fix our society, and they hope He’ll use someone else to do it. Many people say “something should be done about this” while looking around the room for someone else to do it.
Perhaps God isn’t moving, and the prayers aren’t working, because He wants to use you, but you aren’t willing to be used.
2b. The person who prays for God to use them to do something.
Much less comfortable than the regular “God, do something” prayer is the one that expects God to use the pray-er through whom He will answer the prayer. If we are praying for God to change the moral culture of our society, we need to look for how God wants to use us to do it. If we pray for someone to be comforted, we should be willing to go comfort.
When we have the attitude of surrender to God for Him to work through us to resolve the issues about which we pray, we will find God working in mighty and effective ways to do just that.
So, prayer is not the answer, entirely. Prayer is the medium through which we seek God’s will for how He wants to use us to be the answer to the very prayers we pray.