For those who believe in the practice and power of prayer there are many words that come to our mind when we think about prayer: encouraging, enlightening, helpful, meaningful, hopeful, calming or strengthening are some that would be common. Dangerous is probably not a word that comes to most of our minds when we think of prayer. But prayer can definitely be dangerous, for several reasons.
Prayer is more than talking and presenting requests. Prayer includes listening and reflecting. Prayer, therefore, can be dangerous because we must be vulnerable and authentic with God. And once you get real with God you must be vulnerable with people. “Love God and love people” is how Jesus summed up all of the commands in the Bible. “Love God and love people” is not two separate commands; it is one command, forever and intricately tied together. You cannot say “I love God but I’m not loving people; I’ve been hurt, they tick me off, people are annoying.”
Trust me, I get it. People can hurt other people and be annoying and difficult…and so can you and so can I. If you truly love God, you realize you are the beneficiary of his unconditional love…so your love for people will increase with no strings attached. And as you love people deeper and more authentically, your love for God will increase. The same is true with prayer. As you thank God you are more thankful for people, as you are thankful for people your thankfulness for God increases.
And so, prayer is dangerous…you must reveal your hurts, your hopes, your fears, your failures. And in turn, you will be more authentic and vulnerable with people…and that is dangerous.
Another reason prayer is dangerous is because of a common occurrence we observe in many events recorded for us in the Bible. Often when people would pray, the answer to their prayer started with them. In fact, I would contend that the answer to our prayers always starts with us.
Sometimes the answer requires faith or persistence. Sometimes the answer begins with an action we need to take. Because prayer is primarily about us aligning our heart with God’s heart, often in prayer, God impresses on our heart a step of obedience to take. This step of obedience may be the start of the answer to our prayer; other times it is the start of the answer to someone else’s prayer that we are unaware of. And when either of these take place, our faith blossoms and grows deeper!
And, yes, obedience can be dangerous. Do we really think that our faith can grow stronger without outrageous obedience? A life principle that I have observed and experienced and love to share with others is: There is no growth in the comfort zone and much less comfort when we choose to live in the growth zone.
I recently received an outstanding email from one of our men’s small group leaders that illustrates this point so powerfully. I will share that story with you next week…do not miss it! I pray you have a blessed week of dangerous praying and significant growth. As uncomfortable as it can be, would we really want it any other way? God bless you.