Monday, July 24, 2006

Dynamic Prayer

Someone suggested that prayer is either about us trying to change God’s mind, or else it is about letting God change our minds about what He is doing. Of course, prayer is not at all about us trying to change God’s mind about anything, and the person who offered this choice understood that, which is why he went with the second option: Prayer is about letting God change our minds.

But this is a false dichotomy, on two counts: First, there are more ways to think about prayer than just these two. Second, neither of the options he suggested is correct. Prayer is not about us trying to change God’s mind, nor is it about God trying to change our minds. The latter might seem to be very pious and loaded with humility, but it is just as erroneous as the former. For God already has a way to change our mind: He does it by the Word of God, illuminated to us by the Holy Spirit (Romans 10:17; 1 Corinthians 29-16).

This same person went on to suggest that we should not be surprised to receive a No answer to our prayers. He then offered the example of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He prayed, “Not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). But that is a very specific form of prayer — a prayer of consecration. However, there are other types of prayers offered for other types of reasons. The apostle Paul talked about praying with all kinds of prayers and supplication in the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6:18).

There are, for instance, prayers that lay hold of God's promises. When God has promised, I do not expect to receive No for an answer, or else God would be a liar, which is an impossibility. When God has promised and I have pray in agreement with it, I expect to hear Yes.

We don’t come to prayer in order to change God’s mind. Someone has said, and quite correctly, that prayer is not about overcoming God’s reluctance but about laying hold of His willingness. Nor do we come to prayer in order to have our mind changed. Rather, we come to prayer believing what God has said in His Word and expecting to receive whatever He has promised. Jesus had a number of things to say about this in regard to prayer:
Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. (Mark 11:24)

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. (John 14:12-14)

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. (John 15:7)

And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:23-24)

Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:18-19)
Jesus also taught us to pray, “Kingdom of God, come! Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven” (see Matthew 6:10). It is in the imperative mood. It is not merely a request we make; Jesus authorized us to speak it forth. We do not beg for it, then sit and wait for a Yes or No. Jesus has already authorized it. And in Him, all the promises of God are Yes and Amen (2 Corinthians 1:20).

Prayer is not passively waiting around for God to change our minds about something, never being certain whether God is going to say yes or no to our request. There is no power, no authority, no faith to that kind of praying. It is wimpy, even lazy.

If you want God to change your mind, get into His Word and let the Holy Spirit show you what it is about, then you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to go to prayer with faith, not wishy-washiness, and your prayers will be powerful.

Prayer is active, forceful, dynamic. It is not trying to change God's mind about anything, nor is it about having your mind changed. It is about taking the authority we have been given by Jesus Christ and bringing forth the kingdom of God, bringing forth the will of God on earth as it is in heaven.