Prayer Is Not That Powerful

posted in: Prayer 3

Prayer is not that powerful.

Okay, let me clarify that. Prayer is very powerful. Prayer changes things! It can heal the sick and drive out devils. It can close the floodgates of the sky and open them up again. Prayer can move mountains.

Prayer can do a whole lot of things, but one thing prayer can’t do is what you should be doing. Prayer is not that powerful.

Prayer can’t overpower your apathy, overcome your laziness, or override your fear. Prayer’s not a magic pill. It’s not a way to get God to solve all your problems and give you everything you want. Yes, some things you ask for, only God alone can do. If it happens, it’ll be a miraculous move of His hand. But other things you ask for, God will grace you with the ability to accomplish. If it happens, it’ll be because you put your hand to the plow.

You should never act without praying. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be sure of your direction.

Gideon prayed for a few days after he heard his calling. (And I think he heard it pretty clearly right from the beginning, but he still prayed for clarity!) He asked God to prove that He really intended to use him, a simple farmer, to defeat Israel’s enemies. And the Lord obliged. He helped Gideon’s unbelief and clearly confirmed his calling.

Moses went back and forth with God for a while, too. He tried to opt out based on his disabilities. He felt completely unequal to the task he was being given, and he told God so. God was gracious enough to indulge the dialogue, then He patiently proved His power and confirmed Moses’ appointment. But when Moses kept talking, the Lord’s patience ran out. Enough was enough! He told Moses to pick up his staff and go.

You should never act without praying, but you should never fall into the rut of praying without acting. Once you’ve gotten your direction, it’s time to move. Once all the wrong doors have been closed and the right door has been opened, you’ve got to put one foot in front of the other and walk through it. Once you’ve gotten your marching orders, it’s time to march.

For many believers, prayer has become an act of spiritual procrastination. The calling has been confirmed, and there’s no denying the right direction. We’ve gotten our answers and we know what we should be doing. We just don’t want to do it. And so we start delaying by praying.

We delude ourselves into thinking that we’re doing something, that we’re acting faithfully by “thoroughly covering the situation” in prayer. We even deceive others when they ask us what we’re going to do. “Well, I’m still seeking the Lord on that.” We don’t want to go where we know we’re being sent, so we decide to stay in a holding pattern of prayer, prayer which, by now, has become pointless.

I’ll take it one step further: for many of us, prayer has become a sin. Okay, before you crucify me, just think about it for a minute. If you’re still praying just because you’re scared to act, your prayer is nothing more than an act of fear masquerading as faith. If it’s out of fear, then it’s not out of faith. And whatever isn’t of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).

If you’re not careful, prayer can become a carnal comfort zone. It gives you something to do without doing anything. Again, I’m not saying that you’re “not doing anything” when you pray faithfully and purposefully. I’m saying that if all you’re doing is praying even after you’ve heard from the Lord on what you should be doing, you’re wasting your breath.

Many great heroes of faith “inquired of the Lord,” and you should ask, too. But if He’s given you the opportunity and the means to do something about it, you can stop looking for answers. You are the answer.

One day, Jesus told a parable about a servant who buried the talent his master had given him in the dirt. He feared losing it, so he refused to act. Do you remember what the master said about that servant when he discovered that he wasn’t getting a return on his money? He didn’t say the servant simply made a poor choice or a regrettable decision. He didn’t say the servant had an understandable moment of weakness.

The master called that servant “wicked.”

When you’ve got your assignment, any form of procrastination, even prayerful procrastination, is wicked. (In case you didn’t know, that means “bad.”) It’s a form of evil. It’s an insult to an awesome God who calls you and equips you for victory.

By all means, ask…seek…knock. Never stop praying. Pray without ceasing. Pray about anything and everything. Pray all the time with all kinds of prayer.

But don’t keep knocking on a door that’s already open.

3 Responses

  1. Angela Horton
    | Reply

    Amen! So is prayer justified by works? And could this be similar to James 2:26 saying that faith is dead without works? Because i truly believe I have to put fourth every effort to the best of my ability in faith and action before I pray.

  2. Sandra Holthofer
    | Reply

    Moses was scared his speech wasn’t proper enough. God sent Aaron to shake things up. God reminds us, that when much is given, much is required. Thank you for this reminder.

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