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Is Prayer a Waste of Time?
February 26, 2018
Is Prayer A Waste of Time?
A few months back, I saw a bumper sticker that read, “Prayer, how to do nothing and still think you are helping.”
I find the sentiment that this statement represents to be a little disturbing. I can understand if you meet someone who is hungry, and you have the means to feed that person, you should. If you tell that person, “I will pray for you.” and just walk away, then you have not really helped and the bumper sticker would be accurate in that scenario.
When churches send out missionaries to other countries, the missionaries are trained to meet the physical needs of the people first. After their physical needs are met, people are much more open to their spiritual needs.
In the example I used above, the correct response would have been to feed the person first then pray for that person. What would be the point of the prayer? If that person’s circumstances do not change, then that person will be hungry again the next day. The prayer is an effort to get God to change that person’s circumstances for the better. It is the hope that God will provide for that person so he or she would become the one helping out someone else in need.
Refusing to pray for that person or refusing anyone’s prayer request, is you telling that person that there is no hope.
I recently saw a television show about a missionary team in Africa that visited a makeshift hospital. They went to one room where several people were on cots suffering from various kinds of sicknesses. All of the patients allowed the mission team to pray for them except for one man. The man told the missionary team that prayer would not do any good so he refused to let the team pray for him.
The following day, the missionary team went back to that hospital room to pray for the patients one more time. What they found was that all of the patients except one had been released because they were no longer sick. The one that remained was the one who would not let the mission team pray for him. He was begging the mission team to pray for him at this point.
Is prayer a waste of time? Not according to Jesus. In the book of Matthew alone, the word pray or prayer is mentioned 18 times and all 18 instances are the words of Jesus.
One example is, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Chapter 26:41 Jesus is telling us to pray. Since He created us, then this must be important. Several times Jesus states, “When you pray” or “when thou prayest” there is an expectation that His disciples will spend time in prayer.
What is prayer? It is simply talking with God. You talk to God and God talks back. Our Vice President, Mike Spence, was publicly criticized on a television show because he made the statement that Jesus talks back to him. However, God seldom talks back audibly so how does He communicate with us? He has given us His word which we call the Holy Bible. God speaks to us through that, through the unction of the Holy Spirit, sometimes through dreams and visions, and at other times physical signs.
Do you like talking to someone who doesn’t seem to be listening to anything you say? It’s like talking to a deaf person and very frustrating. Scripture states in Hebrews 1:1-3, “1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;”
The word of God states that Jesus speaks to us.
Scripture states in the last days - the days we are currently in - God has spoken to us by His Son. If you want to know God, then get to know Jesus. The only way to get to know Jesus is to spend time in His word. That is how God speaks to us. Prayer is talking to God. A conversation involves both speaking and listening.
The biggest weakness of the church - those who have trusted and believed in the provision for sin that Christ made on the cross - is its prayerlessness. We are human. We are busy. It is not easy for us take the time to pray. It requires effort. We are distracted. We love our gadgets. Heaven forbid that you put your Smartphone down for 5 minutes so you can engage in an actual conversation.
Technology has made mankind lazy. Technology is simply a tool. Technology is man-made and mankind has become slaves to their own creation. There are many pastors who shun TV and radio because it distracts them from being effective as pastors. They would rather spend the time in studying the word of God and praying which is a more effective use of their time.
Prayer has eternal value. The value of technology is temporal and will fade away.
Recently, there was a shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. The shooting is senseless. Social media had many posts from people that didn’t want our thoughts and prayers, they wanted more laws controlling gun ownership. How is this going to comfort the families of those who lost family members?
Let’s go back to the year 1962. Prayer and the Bible was taught in school before that year. There were fewer gun laws in that day. In the area I grew up in, students who were able to drive would bring their hunting guns to school to show their classmates after school. There were no students being shot by other students in that year.
1962 was the year prayer was banned from public schools. When you have a nation that rejects God, rejects prayer, rejects the Bible, and rejects the name of Jesus, you have a nation that has chosen death over life. Stricter gun laws will not stop the shootings anymore than stricter vehicle operator laws will stop terrorists from using vehicles to kill other people. Social media posts reflect how much our society wants to have nothing to do with God. God will grant their wish and have nothing to do with them.
Is prayer a waste of time? One prayer can change your eternal destiny. It certainly changed mine.
One prayer can heal a sick person. I have seen it happen in my life.
One prayer can give you the spiritual strength you need to get through another day. It is necessary.
One prayer can send angels to protect your loved ones.
One prayer can provide provision when there was none to be found.
One prayer can free a person from drug and alcohol addiction.
One prayer can comfort a dying man.
The statement, “Prayer, how to do nothing and still think you are helping” is saying God is not going to help you in any way, shape, or form so stop wasting your time trying to talk to Him.
The Bible says to stop wasting your time listening to these people.
Copyright 2018 by Gary Goodworth
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