When we abuse prayer… Pt. 1

by Brenda Kuseski

Brad Long and Doug McMurry are the directors of Presbyterian and Reformed Ministries, focused on bringing renewal to the denomination.  Their book, Prayer that Shapes the Future, reminds us that Jesus observed the Pharisees and Sadducees at prayer, and declared them useless. Long and McMurray describe some of the ways in which prayer is abused:

 The apostle Paul wrote: “And now these three remain:  faith, hope, and love” (1 Cor. 13:13).  They are the most important gifts that the King gave to his subjects before he went off, and he said, “Trade with these till I come” (Luke 19:13).  Prayer is one way of “trading” [bringing increase] in our Christian faith, hope, and love.  Prayer is abused when we make it a vehicle of fear, despair, or bitterness. When we do this we are burning trash, not incense, in the sanctuary of the Lord. For example:   

· Loveless prayer“Lord, show them what fools they are.”

· Faithless prayer“I’ve prayed and prayed and you never do anything and it just seems like that’s par for the course.”     

· Hopeless prayer:   “O God, _________ is just getting sicker and sicker and the doctor says it’s hopeless.” Or “God, the world is just getting worse and worse and nothing seems to be stronger than the evil, and ….”

· “Decorative” prayer:  The Pharisees and Sadducees prayed little sermons—self-conscious, flowery, impressive, and moralistic, intended for people, not for God.  Here’s a rule:  “If thou has not used King James English in thine everyday conversation or in speaking to thy friends and family, thou dost not need to use it in thy prayers…”


(Continued next week)


Becky WarnerComment