things jesus didn’t say #4 | harder

9 04 2014

We need to pray harder. How often do we find ourselves saying that? It’s as if, when we don’t get what we want, we think that perhaps if we somehow did it ‘harder’, God will give in. I’m not sure what ‘praying harder’ looks like. Is it like weightlifting? Intense straining with our heads in our hands? Like thinking so hard our heads explode? 


Now, I know it’s not simply that we shouldn’t pray ‘hard’. This is why prayer is complex. Jesus says a lot about prayer, but none of it is a formula that makes it ‘work’, because prayer isn’t about magic incantations that tip a balance or command a force, but prayer is the outworking of a life lived in relationship and conversation with the living God. In Jesus’ most obvious teaching about prayer in Matthew 6, it is in the context of humility, of generosity, of privacy; it is begins with God, and his kingdom, other people, and then ourselves; it involves confession, forgiveness, and recognising Jesus’ authority.

There are times when we need to pray intensely. There are times when we pray continuously. There are times when we need to remember prayer includes listening, and is not something we do just when we want something. But to complicate matters, God may seem to change his mind and act when we pray ‘hard’ – maybe  he wants to know we’re serious. But ultimately it’s not about formulas, and if our prayers aren’t answered as we would like, it’s not simply a case of our failure because we didn’t pray hard enough. Jesus never said that. 

We’re doing the Prayer Course at the moment, which looks at lots of these issues. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good place to start from.  




One response

10 04 2014

Great one Kevin. The trouble is we often look upon prayer as a lever to pull to get what we want, and if we don’t get it we just pull harder. My experience is that prayer is about a relationship, my relationship with God. I can’t come to him and demand anything but I can come and tell him what is on my mind, if I am prepared to listen to what is on his. Great spiritual energy can be released sometimes in prayer, and at other times it feel like nothing has happened, but the results do not correlate with our feelings. God calls us to pray, sometimes tells us what to pray, and uses our prayers to achieve his purposes. But we are not powerless and we have a vital role to play in praying as we bring our own love and knowledge of things into the equation.

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