Advice Is Not Prayer


Intercessory prayerYesterday, 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.

9 thoughts on “Advice Is Not Prayer

  1. Diane R

    Men only? No, women do this all the time too. This is one reason I seldom share prayer requests unless I do so with a mature Christian that will discipline themselves to hear God and pray scripturally.

    • Diane,

      Women advise for 50 minutes and pray for 10. It’s that extra 5 minutes of prayer that they have over men that really counts. 😉

      Besides, I look at it this way: Go to any Evangelical church that has an intercessory prayer team run by the church, and that prayer team will be 90-100% women 90% of the time. And that group is more likely to actually pray.

      So, it’s the men that need to step up here.

  2. linda

    Hi Dan,
    Advice is not prayer, however, the practical suggestions are helpful too. For example, ‘what would you do’? ‘what are your thoughts about this situation’? ‘what have you done that has worked for you’?

    Praying for one another is important. Praying to God about our situations and trials in life are important. But praying TO God and communing with Him is also important for the believer. Praying the will of the Father. What is his will? Our holiness, our righteousness, our obedience to his word. Our maturity, our wisdom.

    When we gather for prayer there is so much to pray about. We should have the opportunity to just kneel down and pray what’s on our heart. When we wait for one another in prayer meetings alot of time is wasted so to speak. We do need to hear the needs of one another but this can be done at other times and in other ways. Listening to the needs and requests of each person in the group before praying makes for a long….long…. night.

    Just some of my thoughts about praying in groups together.

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