You can see them coming miles away–those words and phrases that, when used, paint you into the metaphorical Christian corner. You promised yourself that you would take a different route the moment you even thought those words and phrases were coming, but they still found you. How did they find you? Do they have your address? Maybe you were using Apple Maps and it actually re-routed you right into their warpath.
For me, “I’ve prayed about it” is one of those phrases.
You may know the phrase from other formerly-seen statements such as:
- I sought the Lord about this.
- I have been asking God about this.
- God and I have talked about this.
Either way, when approached by such a phrase, I usually squirm. It’s the kiss of death. You should hear what goes through my mind. “Did they really pray about it? How long? Minutes? Hours? Once? Did they let their friends know they were praying about it? I wonder if it made it into a journal. Journals are cool. Man, I need to write in my journal. I wonder where it is. Moleskines are awesome.”
There is absolutely no way out. If I disagree with whatever comes out of their mouth, I will then be disagreeing with God Himself. And who wants to disagree with God? I don’t. I better agree.
Don’t get me wrong. I want people praying. I want people to be on their knees, on their face and, as my children often are, somersaulting their way to the throne room of God. I want their hands to be bloodied from pounding on heaven’s door. And then I want them to walk in faith. But I recently realized the reason that I am sometimes bugged by this phrase.
It often opposes the very goal of prayer–to grow our faith and delight in God.
We pray to God for so many reasons. Because life is a battle. Because there are things we need. Because we are desperate. Because we love. Because we want to know Jesus better. Because we seek repentance. But going to someone to tell them something and beginning with “I prayed about it” can easily render the listener unable to reject or challenge what you’re saying. And if that is the case, it lacks the very faith it was trying to grow.
We have little information on the content of Jesus’ rich prayer life. He taught His disciples how to pray in Matthew 6. He prayed in John 17. And when He talks to Peter about His prayers in Luke 22:32, we learn that He was praying that Peter’s faith “may not fail.” (On a separate note: I wonder how long He was praying that prayer for Peter. Jesus is indeed a Good Shepherd.)
I’ve used this phase, and have probably used it more recently than I wish to admit. But here’s the challenge I am putting on myself:
Pray for something like you’re desperate to see God move, and then trust Him.
Isn’t it more of a joy to be in prayer for something and see God answer it without forcing (or possibly manipulating) the outcome? Let Him grow your faith. Let Him guide you. And let Him encourage you when the prayer that only He and you were aware of was beautifully and gloriously answered.