Prayer: The Great Cop-Out

Warning: this post may be hazardous to your dysfunctional prayer life.

There. I said it up front. So if you are feeling uncomfortable, you have time to go elsewhere. I won't be offended. :)

In the past few years, I've been doing a lot of thinking about how our spiritual approaches can sometimes be exercises in condoned dysfunction. Condoned because...who wants to argue with anything that has God attached to it? That just feels too dangerous. So we often accept whatever comes in the name of spirituality (and God), without digging very deeply into the dynamics.

This morning, reading The Education of Millionaires, it struck me that prayer is one of these condoned practices that, in truth, can sometimes be a cop-out and therefore a form of dysfunction.

When did it strike me? This quote, to be exact, which is the opposite of a dysfunctional prayer approach to problems...

"You see a problem in your life or in your surroundings and fix it. You don't count on some higher authority to make things better; you make it better yourself, whether or not you have the authority."

Throughout Ellsberg's excellent book, he follows person after person who approached life as a problem solver, to good effect—not only propelling them towards greater success but also making them more able to give compassionately to the world.

What problems are you (and I) avoiding fixing today, by praying about them instead of actually taking action to effect change? Dangerous question, I know. It is meant to be.

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Blogger Kelly Sauer said...

Leave it to you to shake things up...

I'm uncomfortable thinking you're right, but I'm thinking you're right.

We're told to pray and not be anxious, to cast our cares on Him.

But we are also told to acknowledge God in all our ways. Which implies that we must have ways. By which we do things. In which we may and must and should acknowledge Him. Open our lives up to Him. Let Him in

We don't know what change HE wants to effect through our lives, but we have to live them with Him in us, not just sit back and do nothing while we wait for a sign...

I'm remembering something about the "effective, fervent prayer" of a righteous man availing much. Is that perhaps because the man made righteous in Christ prays with his whole life?

Anonymous Marilyn Yocum said...

Discernment is key, listening for when we are to move out. It is sometimes known in the blink of an eye. Then we must step out! It is easy to content ourselves with never getting our hands dirty. That, as you say, is a condoned dysfunction.

Anonymous Lane said...

Prayer is being in relationship with Christ. A relationship involves both being with one another and acting for/with one another. We as Christ's followers often hide behind "prayer" (i. e, "I'll pray about it") rather than being prayer...being words that act the Word of God to others. Like Mary, we are puzzled by the how and why of things and yet also we are invited to be stunningly surrendered to God's power, who brings forth life. We don't just pray, we live prayerful lives where we are being actively grace, actively mercy, actively love, actively forgiveness, actively healed and healing. Posers pose behind words. Pray-ers enact the Word Himself by risking and wrestling forward into change. We declare glory then we bring forth our own good hearts, made so by His good heart, and then we pour forth glory. Like we see in C S Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, as Mr. Beaver reminds us, Aslan is not safe, but He is good. I believe we are to be likewise...acting beyond the "safe, comfort zones" into the wildness of Real Love and Truth.
Lane Arnold

Blogger Megan Willome said...

Sometimes when God is silent, it's because I need to get off my butt and do a particular thing I don't want to do.

Anonymous Monica Sharman said...

This is reminiscent of James 2:16.


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