What Does God Think About Prayer?

One of the most counter-intuitive moments in scripture is when the children of Israel are trapped between Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea.

The people are panicked, angry at Moses for getting them in this mess, yelling at him, asking why he had them escape just to die, telling him they would rather be slaves in Egypt than slaughtered in the desert.

It wasn’t a great “leadership moment” for Moses.

On top of them being angry, Moses gives some advice and guidance that seems right initially, but he gets it totally wrong.

He tells them, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today.”

Sounds like good advice and great faith, doesn’t it?

We hear this advice all the time.

“Don’t be afraid. Stand still and the Lord will rescue us from this sad world.”
“Don’t be afraid. Stand still and the Lord will take care of the poor.”
“Don’t be afraid. Stand still and the Lord will bless us and give us the desires of our heart.”
“Don’t be afraid. Stand still and the Lord will take care of our needs.”

This was God’s response to Moses’ advice to, “Not be afraid. Stand still and watch the Lord rescue.”

He said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Quit praying and tell the people to get moving!”

Now I grew up in church and I never heard one sermon where the pastor told us to quit praying.

In fact it seemed like all we did was pray.
We prayed for Jesus to come back.
We prayed that evil people would get their due.
We prayed that we would  not get stained by an immoral world.
We prayed for who would become president.
We prayed that God would bless us financially.
We prayed that other denominations would become holy like we were.
We even prayed for people less fortunate than us.
We prayed, went home for a week, and then came back and prayed again.
We prayed often, with eloquence.
Our church would have won a prayer contest.
We even had a chapel called the “House of Prayer.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for prayer.

Prayer is where I gain my intimacy with God.
Prayer is where I get the power to live.
Prayer is where I gain wisdom.
Prayer is where I find peace.
Prayer is where I experience rest.
Prayer is the foundation to my life in faith.

So why did God tell Moses to quit praying and get moving?

Well, here is my theory. And I think it is a pretty good one.

Many times prayer is an excuse to not do something that we know God has already told us to do.

There are many things we don’t have to pray about.

Serving the poor.
Caring for orphans.
Taking care of widows.
Being a father to the fatherless.
Feeding the hungry.
Sheltering the homeless.
Clothing the naked.
Forgiving our enemy.
Rescuing young women and children who have been sex trafficked.
Fighting injustice.

These are things we don’t have to pray and ask whether it is God’s will or not.

In fact, it is possible to actually pray more while moving farther and farther away from God.

God spoke through the prophet Isaiah once and said, “When you lift your hands in prayer, I will not look at you. No matter how much you pray, I will not listen…See that justice is done—help those who are oppressed, give orphans their rights, and defend widows.”

This may be blasphemy, but I would like to challenge the American church to pray less and do more.

Get out of your prayer meetings and go help someone.

Leave your worship services and feed someone.

Stop talking about the poor and invite the homeless into your services.

Stop building bigger buildings and spend more money on local and global missions.

Stop looking the other way and sponsor children in poverty stricken countries. (www.compassion.com)

Cancel your women’s teas and your men’s breakfasts and rebuild a widow’s home or mentor a child who has no father.

Stop praying for blessings and help those who God has asked us very clearly to help, because that is where the blessings are!

I believe that God is saying today, “Stop asking me for more things, stop asking me about my will, I have made it very plain what I want you to be doing.” (Read Isaiah 58, Matthew 25, James 1:27, Psalms 82)

I think He would go on to say, “And while you are doing those things, pray! Pray hard, pray often, and I will give you the strength and the wisdom and courage to shine your light and “storm the gates” of poverty and hopelessness and loneliness and the world will be drawn to Me and the world will know that I am love.”

What happened when God told Moses, to quit praying and get moving?

They experienced a miracle.

May the church do the same!

Share with me what you think about this topic after reading some great quotes about prayer and action:

Action without prayer is arrogance, prayer without action is hypocrisy. – Jose Zayas

Action is the normal completion of the act of will which begins as prayer. That action is not always external, but it is always some kind of effective energy. – Dean Inge

Witness the fact that in the Lord’s Prayer, the first petition is for daily bread. No one can worship God or love his neighbor on an empty stomach. – Woodrow Wilson

About all I can say for the United States Senate is that it opens with a prayer and closes with an investigation. – Will Rogers

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays. – Søren Kierkegaard

Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day; give him a religion, and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish. -Author Unknown

I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs. – Frederick Douglass, escaped slave

Practical prayer is harder on the soles of your shoes than on the knees of your trousers. – Austin O’Malley

Before we can pray, “Lord, Thy Kingdom come,” we must be willing to pray, “My Kingdom go.” – Alan Redpath

Call on God, but row away from the rocks. – Indian Proverb

Prayer begets faith, faith begets love, and love begets service on behalf of the poor. – Mother Teresa

8 thoughts on “What Does God Think About Prayer?

  1. I agree on a lot of what you say, I don’t pray so much for blessings as I have been blessed so much, I pray for Him to change my heart. to give me a spirit of forgiveness. to be able to hear His voice. to trust more, and not get discouraged knowing its all in His control.

  2. Hi Ken:
    I couldn’t agree with you more. We all know people who “pray much and do little.” I don’t want to be a “Do-Little.”
    Jim C.

  3. I agree. I think many people get stuck in inaction, as they “pray it to death.” Some agonize over “what is God’s will for my life?,” without seeming to notice all the things (mentioned above) that God says ARE His will. Better to step out and do something, than to keep waiting for the “perfect moment of clarity.” I once heard a Pastor say, “if we always have to wait for clarity, are we fully trusting in God?” Sometimes we have to pray, run it through the Bible and a godly friend–if nothing crops up that goes against that, take a step in faith and see what happens. (I always wish God would just leave me a note on the nightstand, but so far that hasn’t happened!) I love the quote above where it says we must first be willing to pray, “My Kingdom Go.” Prayer is obviously important, as we want a close relationship with God, to gain in wisdom, tap into the Holy Spirit’s power, confess our sins, all the things you talked about this weekend, but it shouldn’t keep us from doing something to help the people in our world.

  4. Our purpose is to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to the world. That is all I have to remember. Not complicated. Not overwhelming. I have been trying different avenues for quite a few years and just landed where I know I am suppose to be to fulfill my purpose. It took a while but never gave up. Just kept serving the Lord along the way in one way or another. I am so glad and at peace to have found the place I am to serve. There was no doubt when it happened.

  5. Once I have asked for something in prayer, He has taught me to have full faith in Him that it has been heard..in fact He knew my prayer before I was born. My prayer is always to please deal with Me in how I respond to the needs of others, that I would reflect Him otherwise it is useless, pointless and a waste of time. He has taught me to just Go, pray while I am Going and listen to Him. At the end of a day I reflect on His work in me and He exposes to me my lack of faith and He teaches me about me and reminds me how much He loves me.
    Just get going, get faith, get taught, get loved by our God. What a great day~!!!!

  6. GVCC not only has knees, but we have FEET!! I love the way that GVCC puts the word into actions. The community is a much better place because so many people put God’s words into actions!! Thank You Jesus!

  7. Ken, great message. Over the years have come to believe that God has only ONE will for our lives…..and that’s to love, embrace and follow his Son. He’ll fill in the details when we step out, sometimes into the unknown, and just trust. It’s exciting to just “show up” and allow the Holy Spirit to fill in the blanks. Otherwise our walk will be discouraging and at best, ho-hum. It’s like Oswald Chambers says, “If we want to know God’s presence and blessing, it won’t be apparent though study and meditation. He comes to us with power through obedience.”
    ~ Hank Prevette (859 House – Wash DC)

  8. I find that a lot of my prayers end up being about thankfulness. Acknowledging His blessings seems to keep me on a more even keel. Clarity can be so elusive…I am pretty sure at times that if I saw what was coming I’d run the other way! Sometimes I don’t even know what to pray, and then I find I need to listen and feel His love. Great points, Ken, thank you.

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