Tuesday, November 14, 2006


“Your prayers are working.”

“He/She needs more prayers.”

“We need as many people as possible praying for this.”

Do these phrases bother you at all?

I'll let you know my thoughts on Thursday, but in the meantime I'd love to hear yours.

Disclaimer: This is not in response to anyone who has used these phrases in my presence recently. My mind has been chewing on this for at least the past year.


Anonymous said...

I would agree. The thoughts have gone through my mind of, "is this really how it works?" Is a prayer by one person less effective than a prayer by a congregation full? Is my single prayer not going to accomplish as much as my repeated prayers? Why do we talk about prayers working instead of God working? Good questions!!


Anonymous said...

I had never stopped to think of what those phrases might indicate. However, I think the last one, if the word "need" isn't meant literally, sure does help the person being prayed for... there is something about knowing you have many people lifting you up before God that is comforting and encouraging.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a great thought. As far as bothering me...well..it doesn't really bother me but makes me question at times.
"Your prayers are working" to me indicates that a person has seen results and indeed believe that God is at work in their life! Good stuff! However, if they didn't get the desired results...would the phrase have been the same?
"He/She nees more prayers" to me indicates that the humanly desired results are not being accomplished by the person or the requestor so they are summonsing more prayers. Maybe not necessarily changing the request...but just the need for more prayers.
"We need as many people as possible praying for this" to me means to have as many people interceding for you. I personally have been part of a 24 hour continous prayer chain. I'm not sure if the results would have turned out any different if we had 1 person or 1000 people praying. But what does it hurt?

I believe that we must pray for each other when we sometimes don't feel we can even pray for ourselves. If all we can do is pray for someone, I think that is enough. I have questioned in the past...what more can I do? And the answer is...just pray.
I've used all 3 of the phrases you mention on different occassions and depending on the situation, I don't find them bothersome.Unless I'm not doing my part of the job!
Good Stuff Shane!!!

Jeanne said...

Interesting! This is going to sound weird (what did you expect?), but reading those words in that context, just hit me really strangely. All three of those phrases reminded me of the current trend in TV that requires the viewing audience to call in their vote in order to assure their person of choice wins/succeeds. They almost hit me as a pep talk to keep praying so God will let us have our way. I know that's not how they are meant or how they are used, but that's how they hit me. I think the secret to answered prayers come by praying for His will in every situation. Jesus didn't hesitate to ask for another way in the garden, but He made it clear that it wasn't what He wanted, but what the Father willed that mattered most. You've got me digging in the scriptures. Thanks! I too have one of those thoughts that I have been wrestling with for quite a long time that I desire a deeper understanding of how it works. I'll try to get it posted soon. I'd appreciate your thoughts on it.

Owen B. said...

Yes, they do bother me, as if we, by our efforts at prayer, have a chance of manipulating God. That's what this kind of prayer is: an attempt to manipulate God and get him to do what I want.

Mine is not an argument against prayer. I'm very much for it. I regularly pray that people might be healed, escape addiction, bear up under grief, be spared the path through the valley of the shadow of death. But often those prayers are not answered with the outcomes I've asked for. These phrases do not take into account desperate, unanswered prayer, where the one prayed for goes through what we've prayed they would not go through. What are we to do about that?

I'm also not against an entire church or prayer chain or whoever praying for someone. That shows the collective heart of God's people for the person or situation being prayed for.

Prayer "works" when God hears us, as he always does. Prayer "works" when we hear God. The proof of prayer is in the relationship, not in what answer is (or is not) given by God.

And, finally, as I am discovering even more this year as I pursue spiritual formation, the aspect of prayer involving requests of God is only one VERY small part of what prayer really is.

Just my opinion (which should probably be expressed, I admit, in a much humbler way)....


Anonymous said...

Shane your father is always amazed at the comments when this subject comes up. I have no problems what so ever with the statements listed. Iwould remind the group of Luke 18:1-8 1 Tim.2:1 James 5:14-15 1 Peter 5:7 and Hebrews 4:16. The Bible encourages us to pray, so why do we question it, of have we quit reading the Bible and it's many examples.


Terry Rush said...

Philip Yancey has a great new book out, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? I highly recommend it....BEFORE.....Shane highly recommends it. Remember, folks, you heard it on Shane's blog BUT FROM ME first!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Okay...so today is Thursday!