This sounds like an irresponsible statement at best. Christians rely so heavily on prayer. In fact, if there is one thing we need to grow in, it’s prayer. We don’t pray nearly enough. So why would we ever say that prayer isn’t enough? Well, simply because it isn’t. But….as a pastor of mine used to say, “Don’t hear what I am not saying.” I am not saying that prayer isn’t vitally important and an essential discipline of the Christian life. We desperately need to pray.
We pray because we are finite and fallible. We rely on God. We can never do anything without God, even take our next breath. The Christian realizes that God is in control of all things. King David sang and prayed in total acknowledgement that everything is under God’s control and we must rely completely on him. Psalm 103:19-22 “The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!”
We often see all the truth of God’s sovereignty in the Scripture and are tempted to reduce our responsibility to prayer alone. Sometimes we overlook our need for repentance. Sometimes we overlook our need for obedience and trust. Our right expectations of God’s sovereignty cannot veto God’s right demand for our repentance, faith and obedience. So often God has given us answers in the Scriptures that are already the answers to our prayer. We therefore pray for God’s strength to transform our hearts and align our minds and actions to his will.
One of my favorite verses to consider this is the very famous verse of Romans 12:2. This verse talks about God’s will. How often do you pray that God would guide you in his will? This is a very common prayer for Christians. Paul says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” This verse is filled with imperatives for us to obey.
1. Don’t be conformed to the world. First, is your thinking worldly rather than biblical?
2. Be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Have you believed God’s truth and committed to follow his truth rather than the lies of the world (or our own hearts)?
3. By testing. Have you put God’s truth into action?
4. You may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Have you then seen that no matter the result, God’s truth leads us into what is good, acceptable and perfect? Have you seen that our own way is the opposite?
Prayer is essential in all things. So is conforming to God’s truth and living that truth by faith. The Christian life is not passive and the expectation that God has for prayer is not passive either. Prayer is a weapon that helps us to trust and prayer is a weapon that is used while we live in trust. This is why we never see the New Testament authors telling us to pray and do nothing. Resting in God doesn’t mean apathy and passivity in our Christian walk. It means confident satisfaction in God’s sovereignty while we serve him with all our heart and mind and strength.