Yesterday I passed a church with a message board out front that said "Prayer Changes Things". I've heard a hundred different flavors of this same message - "Prayer Works", "Prayer Can Change the World", etc. I suddenly don't get it. What is prayer?
Wikipedia says this:
Prayer is the act of attempting to communicate, commonly with a sequence of words, with a deity or spirit for the purpose of worshiping, requesting guidance, requesting assistance, confessing sins or to express one's thoughts and emotions.
I think this would be a fairly accurate assessment of the common understanding about prayer. My thinking is this – when we say prayer changes things, we make God the passive activist of our wills. It is God alone who changes things as He purposes or wills. Yes, He allows us to come to Him as a child to their father with our petitions, but in the end has to choose the best.
I understand the sentiment behind such a statement – but we need to always be cautious to remember that it is not the Lord who does our bidding, but the other way around. It is a common expression that tends to credit the power to the person praying, when indeed true prayer is an act of humility in relationship with Father, and a confession in the act itself that we are powerless.
Geesh, I wish I could just drive through neighborhoods and notice the colors of people's shutters!