Why Prayer Doesn’t Work

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Throughout this series I introduce a “Prayer Defeater” each sermon.  That might be the wrong term.  Which is why I am blogging about it; you are welcome, yea encouraged, to help me 🙂

Tim Keller likes the term “Defeater” as an idea that blocks truth; it must be navigated before we can even talk about Jesus and the Gospel.  John Eldredge writes of “Agreements” we make without realizing it (Like, “I’m never trusting women again”), and how destructive they can be; spiritual ones being the worst.  My boss, Dr. Eswine, refers to ‘core lies’ we believe.  They sneak in, often without us realizing it, and disrupt our ability to think about and engage people or the Lord.

Week 1 Prayer Defeater: I can just pray anywhere.  Of course you can pray anywhere, but if that is it, “if you just pray anywhere” you will miss out.  When Jesus taught on prayer he said go into your room, close the door, etc.

Week 2: Prayer is just talking to God.  Reasoning: If Jesus had wanted to say that I think he would have.  Prayer is certainly talking to God, but it is not just talking to God.  Often pastors or teachers say that to push on some of our religiousness.  Fine.  But, it isn’t true in a vacuum.  There is a good order to our needs, Proclaiming God’s Glory, asking for provision and protection.

Week 3: If God knows everything then prayer is pointless.  Or, if God knows everything why would I pray.  This one is a bit different, because it isn’t a core lie.  It can lead to a bad agreement, “Since God knows everything I will just pray a couple of times a week because God said to”.  But, it does have a couple of core lies behind it: prayer is just about changing me (Prayer Defeater #4), I don’t have free will, I can’t understand the things of God because my head explodes when I start thinking about him knowing everything and me having free will.  Jesus actually owns this one as he jumps into the teaching on prayer, “your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:8”.

Prayer Defeater #5: Prayer doesn’t work.

Is Defeater the right word?

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2 responses to “Why Prayer Doesn’t Work

  1. For me the word instead of defeater is excuses. These are the things I tell myself to feel better about my lack of prayer discipline. I have an issue I should pray about, I fail to actually pray about it in a sincere way, then I tell myself it is ok, because I thought about it and God knows my thoughts, thus he knows my position on the issue and can take care of it from there.

    Thus, personally I would call it an excuse rather than a defeater. Not because defeater is incorrect, but because defeater isn’t a word that enters my vocabulary often.

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