Recently, a storm of criticism erupted on social media when a week of prayer and fasting was declared in Zambia to fight a cholera outbreak. The idea was mocked and ridiculed, even by some Christians, because they would prefer to see efforts directed toward better public sanitation. A similar thing happened a few years ago when the Ghana currency, the Cedi (pronounced see-dee), was losing value against the dollar. A falling Cedi causes inflation in Ghana. Everyone was talking about it and it was constantly in the news.
One day, I saw in the news that a well-known charismatic preacher had prayed for the Cedi, commanding it to stop falling in value. Most newspapers and radio stations carried the story. I heard conversations between Ghana Christians on the topic.
The critics said the government should exercise more fiscal responsibility; that praying for a miracle was not the right way forward. Others expressed their support. Being a fiscal conservative, I thought the criticism raised some valid points. But I also thought that criticizing prayer was unnecessary. That’s because I don’t have any confidence in the understanding or desires of those who pray, including leading pastors or even myself. But I do have confidence in God. He will hear the prayer and respond based on his infinite wisdom and from his heart of righteousness and love.
It strikes me as both unnecessary and prideful to try to get our prayers exactly right. But insisting that others get their prayers right strikes me as dangerous – something likely to reduce faith and discourage prayer. God is all-wise. So why do we think people have to pray exactly the right thing? The critics expected the people praying to understand the factors that influence exchange rates and pray for the right factor(s) to change. Of course, even economists disagree on what should be done, so good luck getting that one right. I prefer to count on God.
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words, (Romans 8:26)
Maybe my old age is making me lazy, but I now like to pray for things that bother me even when I don’t understand the issues at all.
PS: I accidentally sent out this post by email some months ago. My apologies to those who are getting it for the second time.
This hit close to heart this morning for me. While I was praying, I received an important business call that I was expecting yesterday. This call answered the prayer I just finished in more ways that I could have imagined. Yes. God and His wisdom and timing is what we must rely upon to get the job done.
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I Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Doesn’t seem to indicate that we’re supposed to “filter” our cares, does it? I don’t think it’s age or laziness, myself. I think it’s learning to trust that God will know best and do what is right. I also think it’s more important to Him that we bring our cares to Him, the relationship part of it, than the actual prayers themselves. And I agree: criticizing the prayers of others is counter-productive!! Let’s just make sure that we are praying ourselves. We can ask the Lord to give us wisdom as we pray. And we can trust that the Holy Spirit will “correct” or fix the prayers to be in accordance with God’s will. Romans 8:26-27 “26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” If the best thing for us is that the Cedi or the dollar or the peso falls, then I don’t think it will matter what we pray. Our prayers are not magic that makes God work. He is always working for what is good and for whatever will make us be conformed to the image of His Son. And I’ve said enough! 🙂
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. We don’t need to “filter” our cares.
Good thoughts. J
I replied online. The problem is that people think that “Prayer works” and they forget that their prayers have no power whatsoever. GOD works. He has the power. He invites us to be part of what He is doing by our prayers—and our prayers help us get in line with what He is doing. But the prayers in themselves are not the thing with the power. So… praying for the wrong thing isn’t the problem. At least, that’s my understanding of it. What do you think?
I agree. And there’s the idea that praying for something means that you don’t do anything else about it, at least for some detractors.