Yesterday, I wrote about praying instead of sharing indignation in public (“View from a Glass House“).
Today, I want to add to that by discussing perhaps the oddest behavior I’ve seen in people who supposedly profess Christ, especially those who are male.
Whenever men share prayer requests in a group, a curious thing often occurs. If the prayer time is an hour, men will spend 55 minutes giving advice on how to fix the problems mentioned in the prayer requests and only about 5 minutes actually praying. This is especially true in all-male small groups.
Now, we know men are by nature all Mr. Fix-It. The universal joke among married women is that husbands immediately want to jump in and correct any problem the wife mentions, when all the wife wants is someone to listen. To men, listening to the problem doesn’t solve anything; doing something about it does.
The same thought process seems true in prayer time, as the mentality of “no point in listening further, we know what to fix” becomes “no point in praying, because we have just the answer for the problem.” In fact, about the only time men jump into praying about a prayer need is when everyone is stumped as to a practical solution. Prayer becomes the tragic admission that we guys didn’t have a bright idea this time.
Advice is not prayer, though. And if God is God—and He is—He may have a solution through prayer that is far above and beyond any man-made advice we may offer. In fact, I wonder if we sometimes settle for the good through man-made advice when we could have had the best wrought by God through prayer alone.
It has taken me several decades to realize I don’t have a clue, but God does. When someone comes to me with a prayer need, I stifle any pretense of offering my “wisdom” and just go for prayer. If during prayer God brings sound advice to my mind, I will share it. But prayer must be trusted first and not second.
We say that prayer is the most powerful action in the cosmos we Christian can take, and yet we treat it as a pathetic option of last resort.