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Why don't we pray how we ought to?

October 23, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

For the next couple of months, I’ll be sharing my reflections on the book The Kingdom Unleashed, written by Jerry Trousdale and Glenn Sunshine, in the hopes of expanding our view of what God is up to in the world and how we can learn from it here in America.  

“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’” (Matthew 6:9-10)

I can’t say that I was surprised to read in chapter 3 of The Kingdom Unleashed that one of the biggest differences between the church in the Global North and the Global South is our attitude towards prayer. I have personally walked through too many days spending minimal time in prayer before God, and I have presided over too many sparsely attended prayer meetings, to know that this description is sad but true. Trousdale and Sunshine argue that not only do we not pray enough in the Global North, but when we do pray, our priorities tend to not be the same as God’s priorities. According to Jesus’ answer to his disciples in Matthew 6 when they asked him how to pray, our priorities should be:

- That the father’s name would be glorified in the world around us (our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name)

- That his kingdom would be ushered in with power (your kingdom come… on earth as it is in heaven)

- That the people of the world – and particularly his followers – would obey the Word and will of the father (your will be done on earth as it is in heaven)

Our priorities, according to Jesus, should be God’s glory, God’s kingdom reign in this world, and obedience to God’s will.

But what about our lack of prayer? Why don’t we pray the way our neighbors in the Global South do? Trousdale and Sunshine give five main reasons:

  • Materialism – We expect to find answers in the material world. For example, we expect people to be healed through the work of the surgeon more than we expect God to directly heal someone
  • Affluence – Why pray “give us today our daily bread” when we have enough food to last us for a month or more? Why pray when we think we have all we need?
  • Busyness – We are too busy to spend time praying
  • Self-reliance – We believe it is a virtue to be strong, independent, and self-reliant; we do not understand that it is better to live relying on God
  • Consumerism – In our culture, fasting and self-denial seem strange

The problem with our lack of prayer, however, is that secular methods will never produce spiritual results. We think that by our ingenuity and human efforts we can grow the church, make disciples, and grow in our faith. But God’s methods have never changed: prayer – yes, and fasting – continue to be the primary methods by which God works in the world.

Consider this a challenge to live out what you claim to believe. If you believe God is real, and that God answers prayer, how will you put this into practice in your life, your family, and your church?

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