Posted by: sailingspirit | May 27, 2012

Are you using prayer backwards?

So many of us struggle with the question, “Why isn’t my prayer being answered?”  And over the centuries the churches have given many reasons, leaving us (I think) a bit worse off because now we have so many reasons we can’t figure out how to discern between them to know which is the culprit in our specific case.  We don’t often have a sure-fire troubleshooting guide to walk us through the diagnosis.

Over recent years I’ve been through this, too, and I have learned some things I think are too valuable not to share as publicly as I can.

You may be holding the tool backwards.

English: Created by User:Fcb981

Using a screwdriver backwards is not helpful, is it?  You may have the appropriate tool, and the right idea, but if you’re using it backwards it still won’t get the job done.  No matter how hard you push, no matter how badly you want it, it just won’t accomplish anything but frustration.  Too many people use the tool of prayer backwards, too.  It’s the right tool, and the right occasion to apply that tool, but if you’re pointing it the wrong way it won’t get the job done.  Yes, that’s what I said–pointing it the wrong way!  You see, too many people approach prayer to God like they approach dealing with other people: they try to manipulate God into doing what they want.  If they beg, plead, cry, act dramatically, give a litany of their deserving qualities, try to make God feel guilty/like He owes them something, threaten to leave Him, etc. they think they can coerce Him into rubber stamping their request.  Let me ask you: do you like it when people try to manipulate you?  Recall a situation where you knew someone was trying to manipulate you.  What was it like?  It’s unpleasant, and disrespectful, too, isn’t it?  What they are inherently communicating to you through their actions is that they believe what they want is more important than what you want/say/think, and the only way they will accept is their own way.  What they want is to have power or control over you, don’t they?  Do you suppose the All-Knowing and All-Powerful God thinks well of humans (His own creation) implying that His opinion matters little, and they want to wrench power over Him?  Not only does it not work, it builds frustration and in the process, like the screwdriver example, just makes you look stupid.

So what does turning the tool of prayer around mean?

First, diagnose WHY you’re holding it backwards.  It’s either of two things:

1) If you’re a three-year-old using a screwdriver backwards, most people just chuckle at your innocence and don’t hold it against you.  It’s just a matter of education, isn’t it?  So they’re eager to help you.  Someone pointing out the characteristics of the screwdriver and the characteristics of the screw, and showing you how to leverage your strength to press in and get the most out of each turn, fixes the problem.  After that, you’re getting good results all on your own.

2) But if you’re grown up, and you’ve already been told how to use a screwdriver, and you still insist on using it backwards, it’s a different kind of problem now.  Now you’re just not willing to believe it.  You’ve decided that either the instructions were not believable, or the source from which you got them wasn’t believable.  Either way, despite your poor results, you’re still insisting on doing it your own way.  You think you’re being smart, but you still look stupid.  Stubborn and stupid.  This is not an education problem, this is a belief problem.  Surprisingly, though, where most people would leave you to your stubborn self, God still looks down at you and takes pity on you seeing you as just not knowing any better.  He is willing to teach you so as to help fill the gap.  He knows that the fix for your unbelief is more education–about who or what is credible and who or what is not.  Then you can go back and apply the instructions given to you.

Second: Repent.  Repent literally means “to turn around, to change direction.”  So if you’ve realized that instead of mastering prayer you’ve become a master manipulator, go to God and apologize.  “Gee, God, I never saw it that way before.  That’s really not nice, and I really don’t want to be that kind of person.  And if I started being that way with You, I probably have been like that with others, too.  Aw, man!  I’m sorry.  God, please help me to stop being a manipulator.  Educate me about Your trustworthiness, so that I can learn to trust what You say.  And educate me about Your desire to do good by me, so that I will lean on Your power in the future and not try to manipulate my own power over You or anyone else.  Thanks, God, for taking pity on me even while I was stubborn and stupid, and for helping me to not be stubborn or stupid anymore.”

Third:  Get educated!  Start studying the Bible to learn about God’s will toward you, and His power, AND how Christ’s obedient offering made a way for God to share His limitless power with you!  Most people who manipulate do so out of fear: when someone tells them No, they’re afraid of what will happen (or not happen) if they don’t get what they want.  When you come to know your true identity as the person God created you to be, and Christ and the Holy Spirit enable you to be, you won’t need to fear anymore.  God’s got your back.  And, since you’ll be going to God more than other people anyway, you’ll be told No less often.

Practice using the tool forwards.

The biggest reason people plead instead of praise when they pray is because they misunderstand the timeline.  They didn’t get the memo: whatever you’re begging for, you already have.  When you asked Jesus to save you from the mess of your old life and give you a new one, He gave you a Welcome Kit that contained all blessings, empowerments, and everything you would ever need to successfully live the new life He gave you.  If He is making you into a superhero, you have been given the tights, knickers, cape, mask, super powers, everything!  So God isn’t answering your prayer now because He already answered it before you prayed it.  He hears you, but His answer is, “Why aren’t you using what I already gave you?”

For most of us, that’s a bewildering statement because we don’t remember being given any Welcome Kit.  Maybe the pastor or church gave us some pamphlet to read, or asked us to sign something like membership, but we don’t remember being given really useful stuff.  Like, no box or anything.  Even when you start a bank account, they give you a whole folder of stuff about your account, ledger books and cards and stuff.  Sometimes a toaster.  So if all we got (outwardly) was a handshake, we don’t know we have it.  Our first question is usually, “Well then, where is it???”  Which makes the answer all the more bewildering: it’s inside you.  Humans don’t give it to you, God does.  It’s contained within the new spirit you were given, when your spirit was re-born.  It’s like…a baby is born a second time only this time with more hair.  It’s a part of you.  You carry it with you wherever you go so you’ll have it wherever and whenever you need it.  Admittedly, it would have been extremely helpful if some person had given you a kit to explain to you not only that you received an internal kit, but how to use it.  We’re working on changing that.  Forgive us.  But at least you’re hearing this now.

Do you remember the old cartoon Inspector Gadget?  No matter what debacle the Inspector found himself in, as long as he was wearing his trench coat, he could say aloud “Go, Go Gadget ________!” and that something would pop out of the coat to save the day.  Well, God has installed within your spirit all the tools, abilities, and enablements you could ever need, too.  So if you’re in a situation where you need healing, you can effectively say “Go, Go Gadget Healing!” and get results.  “Go, Go Gadget Wisdom!”  “Go, Go Gadget Multiplication!”  You see?  The words are slightly different–speak God’s commands, which you can learn straight out of the Bible–but the concept is exactly the same.  And it’s so simple, isn’t it?  Wouldn’t Inspector Gadget look rather ridiculous pleading with God to give him a coat he is already wearing?

The purpose of prayer and intercession is to appropriate (distribute, utilize) the established will and finished work of God.

Your job isn’t to determine it, manipulate it, or overthrow it.  Your job is to take what you’ve been given and put it to work!  If you’re doing what God wants done, using what He gave you to do it with, you are guaranteed success because His work never returns empty.  His Will and Word have been issued–your Bible–but now need to 1) be believed as credible, and 2) be given a voice.  That is, spoken out loud, in order to be released.  (What magician have you ever seen succeed with words he didn’t speak?  Whether it’s “Hocus-Pocus” or “A-La Peanut Butter Sandwiches” or “Go, Go, Gadget” or “Let there be” it’s always said out loud.  Are you even aware abracadabra in its original language means “I create as I speak”?   I swear to you, if you wear a trench coat for a whole week, with Bible promises tucked into all the pockets and hiding places, and practice saying your “Go, Go _________ Blessing!” in every situation, this concept will start to sink in and you’ll begin to realize the brilliance of God’s decision to do it this way.  (Mom’s purse was amazing, but it could only hold so much and carrying it made her back hurt.  God’s way is more universal and weighs nothing.)  Try it.  It’s not the coat itself, of course, but the act of putting it on and wearing it will be the visual aid that speeds up your process from “Wha?” to “A-ha!”  After a week of this, your prayers will go from begging and pleading to thanking and appropriating–and you will start seeing amazing results!

(And when was the last time you said “Shazaam!”, anyway?  Have some fun with it.  Get a bright red coat or something.  Nobody has to know why.  “Dy-no-mite!”)

(May I recommend the follow-up to this post: “A tool is a tool; it works the same for everybody.  Why people forgo the Love of God for the sake of His Justice.”)

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