WHEN YOU PRAY, SAY (PART I)


“Majoring in the Minors in Prayer”

By Akin Ojumu 

Many Christians, genuine and faux alike, tend to see prayer as a magic formula. To them, it’s a religious rite with precise specifications that must be followed to the tee. Far too many in contemporary Christianity subscribe to the notion that prayer is a sacred ritual with pinpoint prescriptions to which adherents must observe if they ever want their prayers to be answered.
 
Consequently, when praying, they meticulously pick the exact right time, conscientiously choose the exact right place, assiduously stay in the exact right position, and methodically say the exact right words. Otherwise, they believe, God will neither hear nor answer their prayer.
 
These unBiblical ideas about prayers have been seared into the hearts and minds of believers through books, conferences, workshops, and seminars of all sorts. Untold millions of hungry souls have been force-fed with this misconception about prayer in many a sermon preached from the pulpits in Church services.
 
Predictably, charlatans and miscreants are cashing in on the deception. By mystifying and mythifying prayer, they are making merchandise out of a solemn act of worship. For purely commercial purposes, the religious landscape is littered with houses dedicated to prayer and ministries devoted to prayer. 
 
There are even racketeers who have established colleges where they offer academic diplomas in prayer. Within two years, and for as much as $10,000 per semester, these colleges would award the unwary sucker a PhD in mountain-moving prayer that's not worth the paper it's written on.
 
The curriculum of many of these prayer degree mills include such nonsense as, “how to move the hand of God.” They teach the captive preys to issue “commands,” “demands,” “decrees,” and “declarations” with authority and power whenever they pray. 

Is it any wonder then that when Christians pray, either corporately or privately, you often hear them “commanding,” “demanding,” “decreeing,” and “declaring” with authority? An authority which, by all intents and purposes they don’t have. Last time I checked, it’s God who has all authority, not mortal men (Matthew 28:18).
 
Of course, this wacky view of prayer is idolatrous and foreign to Scripture. There’s no single Bible text that teaches Christians to “command, demand, decree, and declare with authority” when we pray. 

Likewise, you wouldn’t find it in the Bible that God answers prayers based on when, where, and what we pray. What position our body is in the place of prayer or in what order we word our prayers aren’t prerequisites in Scripture for getting God to answer.
 
So, what’s prayer and what’s the proper way to pray?
 
As always, God has not left us clueless or without a sure guide as to what prayer is and how we should pray. The Lord Jesus Himself provided us a prayer blueprint and He laid down a prayer pattern for us to follow.
 
In Matthew 6:5-15, Jesus taught His disciples what prayer is and what prayer is not. He instructed them on how to pray and how not to pray.
 
1. Prayer is not grandstanding or self-aggrandizing – Matthew 6:5

Matthew 6:5
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
 
2. Prayer is not speechifying, babbling, gibberishing, or filibustering – Matthew 6:7
 
Matthew 6:7
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.”

3. Prayer is petition and not commanding, demanding, decreeing, or declaring – Luke 11:3-4; Luke 22:42; Philippians 4:6-7

Luke 11:3-4
“Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

Prayer is a petition and not a declaration. When we pray, we don’t command or demand anything of God. Rather, we humbly and faithfully present our requests and petitions before a loving Father. When you pray, you simply ask. 

Those who teach people the type of prayer that can move the hand of God are holders of Green Cards to fools paradise. It’s hubris to think mere humans have the power and authority to move the hand of the Omnipotent God. 

No amount of prayer can make God violate His sovereign will and divine purpose. You cannot force God to do your bidding. And, no matter how hard you pray, you aren’t bending God to submit to your will anytime soon.

Stay tuned for next time...

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