Hands Folded in Prayer
Photo by abcdz2000 via sxc.hu

Lots of folks believe in prayer. Generic religionists, agnostics in need, and even atheists with an open mind about the mystical powers within us, talk about the “power of prayer”. There are even studies objectivelyanalyzing the power of prayer. I have news.

 

Prayer has no power.

 

Prayer will neither heal nor help. It will neither change the weather nor pass legislation. It will not move a single pebble, much less a mountain. Pro-prayer atheists might not believe me and agnostics might doubt me; but it is true. Christians might try to reference the passage in the Bible that says that prayer can move a mountain. But they will have an insurmountable difficulty: the Bible nowhere says that.

 

What the Bible does say is:

 

Mt 17:20-21 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

 

Mr 11:23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

 

The Bible says about the mountain moving, “it shall remove”, “it shall be done”, and “[the person praying] shall have whatsoever he saith”. It does not say that prayer does the thing; it does not even say that faith will do it; it says that the thing shall be done. By whom? By God, of course.

 

In one respect, prayer is like a thermostat. A thermostat has no power to heat up a room, it merely communicates with the furnace; it is the furnace that has to power. Prayer is the way we offer our desires unto God and it is God who works.

 

But in another respect, prayer is not at all like a thermostat. You see, when the thermostat calls for heat, the furnace is bound to kick on; it has no choice. The furnace may have all the power; but it is the thermostat that wields all the authority. If this idea is applied to prayer, we end up with the essential features of magic. If you can just say the right words in the right way, you get the desired effect. If we can just pray with sufficient faith, whatever we prayed for, God is bound to do give us. This is certainly not true in the matter of prayer! God is the personal deity, not an impersonal force. God is the divine ruler, not a slave to fallen man.

 

Daniel 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

 

Pray. But do not think that your prayer can magically do the thing you seek. And do not pray demanding the thing you desire. Pray asking God to exercise His power and His authority. By His grace.

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