Monday, June 07, 2010

The dynamics of prayer...

There is a strange dynamic in corporate prayer. Maybe you've noticed it yourself, or maybe its just me.

Every now and again in a corporate prayer setting, like a prayer meeting or - in the specific instance I'm thinking of here - during 'ministry time' in a church service, an odd thing happens.

I don't know about you, but for me in a corporate prayer setting, I never jump right in straight away when someone else has finished praying, I usually leave a gap. And during this gap I generally formulate what I'm going to pray for when I open my mouth. And quite often, someone else will start praying before me, and - weirdly - will start praying for the exact same thing I was about to pray for.

This has happened to me too many times for it to be coincidence. Clearly there is a dynamic going on in prayer beyond me just phrasing the words to say and saying them. Something external to me inspires me to pray certain things.

Of course, I'm assuming that this external factor is the Spirit of God.

It happened on Sunday morning this week. I was praying with two others for a guy in the church. During a moment's silence I decided that I would pray for God to bless the guy's business - which was not really connected to the things we'd just been praying for. And just as I was about to open my mouth, one of the other guys jumped in and started praying for the profitability of the guy's business.

So what I'm noticing is this - in a corporate prayer setting, the Spirit of God inspires you to say certain things to God. In other words, God decides what we ask him for.

So who benefits from such a prayer? If God knows what we're going to pray for, because he Himself decided it, what is the point? Why bother involving me in the process?

I once heard it said that when we pray, we move the hands of God. But if we're moving the hands of God to the place that he decided to move them to anyway, what is our involvement in it worth?

Is it for the benefit of me - the person doing the praying, or for the benefit of the guy being prayed for? Indeed, I have had this experience in settings when we've been praying for people far away, so I guess its - in part - for the benefit of the person doing the praying.

But I find it an odd dynamic.

Anyone else have this experience? Anyone got any insight?


Red said...

I'm with you. I've had this experience numerous times too and like you, believe it is the Holy Spirit moving in the prayer time. I also blogged on 'is prayer necessary' a few weeks back (see below), raising the same question - if God knows what is going to happen then why do we pray? There were various comments posted about whether prayer changes us rather than anything else. I admit I struggle with this idea. I like to think that God knows what he wants to happen but can't rely on any of us to respond, so in the example of corporate prayer he puts the idea out there, if you like, and waits to see who responds to it. So in essence he does need us to pray for specifics, but it doesn't matter who does it. that make sense?!

my post on the same subject:

Ricky Carvel said...


Thanks for commenting. Just had a browse of your blog. Excellent stuff!

I have a half-baked theory of the way God works that I'm still not totally sure of, but might explain a lot.

My theory is this: that for some unknown (and perhaps unknowable) reason God has limited what he can do on this earth to what he can do through people.

So if God wants to do something, he has to find someone to buy into it, or through whom to do it.

Thus, in the example I mention above, God wants to bless this guy's business such that he has more time to devote to other things (yes, I'm being a bit vague), but he can't just do it. He needs someone to buy in to the idea, pray for it, and then he can do it.

Its a bit crazy, but that's the theory I'm working with.

I think that God also limits himself to only releasing his power through people. Indeed, I believe that he sometimes empowers people and they misuse this power (this is my explanation for the Annanias & Sapphira story in Acts - it was empowered but flawed Peter that did it, not the loving and perfect God...).

(NB, I saw your post about Mark Marx, after much internal wrangling - see my old posts from over a year ago - I think that what we have here is an empowered person, who has the God given power to heal lots of things and - for some reason - always starts with legs...)

This helps me reconcile the big questions of pain and suffering - why did God not stop the Boxing Day Tsunami? Cos nobody was there for him to work through before the event. But look at the empowered Christians who fell into line after the event and did amazing humaintarian stuff...

Anyway, enough rambling for now.

Red said...

yeah maybe you've got a point. I certainly believe that God uses people to do his work and I can't think of an example where something I would class as Gods work has not been done by one of us. But I'm not sure I can believe that he doesn't act on anything himself, personally.
Interesting what you say about Marx - will look up your past posts. Maybe that's it - he's just annointed/empowered whatever you want to call it...

Madison said...

i know what your talkin about. but to mee its more of the weegee board effect. everyone 'isn't'' moving the little triangle thing but everyone is. but also to me I think when I look back, I wanted to feel that that when other prayers seemed to magically be the same, it was more a horoscope deal. that it was vague enough I could believe it was all about me but it is so vague it could be the same thing to everyone...