In the first post on this topic, we looked at the five ways God can respond to our praying. We looked at the question: Is there ever a time to stop praying?
Answer: still yes.
In this post, let’s begin to explore when our praying can actually get in the way. Our way.
Jonathan Edwards, one of the great Puritan American reformers (in fact, ranked #5 by one group), said
Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life.
He also warned against self-delusion. Certainly, people have the capacity to get themselves all ginned up during prayer–what he calls the “bubbling joy”–and, in so doing, go astray. From the resulting mixture of “self-confidence” and a “high opinion of themselves,” people are at risk of being swept up in their feelings.
Adults tend to think that teenagers are always swept up in their feelings. That’s it a natural state of being. It’s hard to argue with that point of view. But does that mean that adults don’t live in the same state?
So, for starters, here are 6 ways that even post-teens allow their feelings to confuse their prayer:
1. Believing that prayer is better than action
2. Preferring strong feelings over clear thinking
3. Minimizing others’ thoughts over our own “opinion”
4. Rejecting the reality that God is sometimes mute in response to our prayer
5. Giving more credence to “waiting in prayer” than “moving in faith”
6. Over-spiritualizing prayer while under-appreciating works
Praying: Vexing Stuff
You know, there are times when it’s just plain painful attempting to articulate what’s on my mind. The theologian in me (I have a Masters of Christian Studies to prove it) wants to provide chapter and verse to support multiple viewpoints. The writer in me wants the prose to flow beautifully. The youth pastor in me wants to make these blog posts drop-dead useful and applicable. And then there’s real life: limited time, competing responsibilities, meetings to attend, a job to do, a family to love, exercise that needs doing, etc. So, I just need to get this out to you.
Are there times in our lives when it is appropriate, maybe even necessary, to just stop praying? Yes, I think so. Are we, as a family of believers, open to considering this question? Even if I’m the only one that thinks about it?
Well, I guess time will tell.
Your turn. Has praying ever functioned as a delay-mechanism for you? A distraction? What are your thoughts?