Giant Theology: God Works Through Prayer

There is a wrong way of thinking about prayer that has blossomed in the thinking and practice of many Christians, that “prayer works.” This leads to understanding prayer as some type of energy we can tap, even a power we can wield and control. Imagine if this were true, if it worked like this:

Every time we asked God for anything
and ended the prayer with “in Jesus name,”
we immediately received what we asked for.

How would we pray if this were true, if we really believed it?

  • God, fix my car, immediately and permenantly
  • God, make my bank account like jar of oil for Elijah’s widow, never to run dry
  • God, remove cancer from our world

If prayer worked like this, it would be little more than rubbing Aladdin’s lamp, using God like a powerful genie. There is no evidence that prayer works like this for anyone (I think we would know if it did), and this is not what the Bible teaches about prayer.

Here is the right way of thinking about prayer: not a power we tap but a privilege we exercise. It is not “prayer works,” but “God works through prayer.” The early church father, Marius Victorinus, pagan philosopher who became a Christian very late in life, wrote this:

Have mercy on me, Lord! O Christ, have mercy on me!
Have mercy on me, Lord,
For I have believed in you,
Have mercy on me, Lord,
Because of your mercy, I have come to know you!
Have mercy on me, Lord! Christ, have mercy on me!

Mercy is something that can never be demanded, it must always be given. In this, the concept of mercy expresses our relationship to God in prayer like no other! We ask for God’s favor and mercy in prayer. God is merciful to us. This is not a cause and effect situation. It is rooted in the very nature of God. God works through prayer to meet all our needs, in ways we don’t fully understand or appreciate (sometimes even in hindsight). God works through prayer. And that, my friends, is Giant Theology.

Mark Krause
Nebraska Christian College

BTW: Interesting blog today from Alan Fadling on prayer.

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One thought on “Giant Theology: God Works Through Prayer

  1. Psalm 123:1-3

    To you I lift up my eyes,
    O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
    Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
    as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress,
    so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us.
    Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us,
    for we have had more than enough of contempt.

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