8 Feb 2015

Justifying Ourselves in Prayer?

Submitted by theshovel

A brother wanted to pray with me recently, and so he launched his requests to, I think it was supposed to be, God. But I’m also thinking that most of what he prayed was meant for my ears rather than God’s. I’m talking about the stuff that’s added in for the benefit of those who might misinterpret the requests being made. You know, the back-stepping to include the many Biblical stipulations and other rationalizations that seem to make the requests a little more balanced or maybe even a little more deserved.

Believe me, I understand this approach to prayer, as I use to participate in it. After all, if I know that God knows these things about what I should pray for or not, why am I reminding Him of it … unless, of course, I’m really only justifying it to myself and to those who are praying with me? And as it is a prayer we’re pretty sure that no one is going to interrupt our running dialog. It’s like a captive audience. Now, I don’t pray like this anymore, and I haven’t for a while, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still run this kind of rationalization through my mind. The truth is that I still run through numerous irrational and insane trains of justification to myself, I simply stopped presenting them before my father.

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Maybe he did not feel like the canonical version of God could change anything in his life, but somehow you could, Jim.

Sometimes it seems like other people just add to our problems, but then again, sometimes it seems that it is only through other people that God manifests himself to us.

Sherri, that's what I thought. Why not converse about it first, and then pray.


"Christ in You, the Hope"

makes me think about how prayer (whether it be with one other person or more than one person) is so often used as an opportunity to attempt addressing, confronting and/or manipulating others to get something across that is just too uncomfortable to discuss any other way, like perhaps having a real conversation with the person or persons.  know what i mean … trying to use GOD and prayer as a platform/soapbox kind of thing.  frown

been there/done that!  blush  been there/had it done to me, etc. 

it can often just be another way to instill fear, guilt and/or shame into the hearts and minds of the hearers to get a desired point across.  not really 'prayer', but the determined nature of man using more creative manipulation tactics.


Well sure, it can be. But then again, so can anything having to do with God.smiley


I think we just stand in and by Him either way.heart

I finally got the "jist" of what you were saying by the last line you wrote here. [Ironic! LOL] On the one hand I am all for the praying for another that shows concern and love and of course- insight. On the other, I too have witnessed some prayers that seem to reflect a distance between the other[and therefore us] and their God. If you are referring to the latter, I get that for sure.

I think I would have let him finish though too. There is no need to resist such a prayer in so much as he will be growing in grace just as anyone of us are. Then again, I or you may be inspired by the lord to say something as you did. It truly can go either way!

Love to you my brother,


With out any direct example I am afraid I am lost with this post my good friend! lol

theshovel's picture

I can’t exactly remember how this brother launched into his overly long explanations in the middle of his prayer, but it so reminded me of any number of public prayers I heard for years. It really stuck out, though, because of the exaggerative nature in the way he expressed it.

It was simply so full of explanations as to the reasons behind his requests, and it was fairly obvious that he had added the background and the justification for his request for my benefit. He faltered a couple times when he had run way too far down a rabbit trail and had to backtrack.

As he was going through his explanations, I was considering interrupting him. But I waited until he was done, and then I asked him why he thought it was necessary to explain the whole story as if God didn’t already know it. My questions surprised him, but he knew what I was saying … and had to agree.


p.s. I woke up this morning and was hit with a single word that best described the tone of this man’s prayer: Apologetic. It was as if the presence of another listening in on his request made him feel the need to apologize for what he was asking, and so he kept trying to make it sound okay. In another setting, like a prayer meeting or something like that, it probably would have gone over better, but on the floor of Home Depot, it came across as one who was hoping that having a witness with him (me) and using an excessive number of words that he might get through to God’s ear.

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