From our lips to God's ears…that’s how we all want prayers to be answered, and so when it seems like God didn't hear us, or at least didn't hear us very clearly, we wonder about the effectiveness of our prayers. Some people give up on God, and others assume that they didn't pray hard enough, or they’re not worth God's time, or some other equally erroneous assumption.
Greg Darley, In Wasted Prayer: Know When God Wants You to Stop Praying and Start Doing (Thomas Nelson, 2014), offers a different perspective.
At first, it seems like blasphemy, or heresy, to suggest that our prayers might be wasted, but as he develops his idea, the concept of wasted prayer starts to make sense. When are our prayers wasted? Unfortunately - quite frequently. Don’t hear what I’m not saying, what Darley didn't say. Prayer is a good thing, prayer is something we need more of in many circumstances. Quite often prayer is exactly what’s needed. But there comes a point, when more prayer is just the opposite of what is needed. There comes a time when what’s needed is action.
Darley points out how prayer can be a cover for procrastination, for pride, for isolation, and suggests that to keep praying when God is asking us to move, is disobedience.
All and all, prayer is a good thing. But prayer after prayer after prayer, ad nauseum, becomes what Darley calls religious prayer, as opposed to prayer followed by appropriate action based on God's response which he labels discipleship prayer.
Especially helpful is the list of examples of ‘calls to action’ (p 179-180). Sometimes you just need to get off your knees and onto your feet. It’s a good thing to pray – talk to God, it’s also a good thing to pray – listen to God. It’s a great thing to pray – respond in obedience to what God says.
Wasted Prayer is an easy book to read, and it’s packed full of examples (biblical and personal) of what Darley is trying to explain. There are also ideas of how to put the theory into practice. I’m convinced that my prayer life is going to change as a result of putting into practice the things I picked out of this book. Buckling up and getting ready for the ride.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for the review.