Alibris Secondhand Books Standard

Friday, September 12, 2008

would it be wrong to pray for rain?

Henry Neufeld links to an MSNBC article about Stuart Shepard of Focus on the Family, who called for "Christians" to pray for rain during Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Shepard made a video of his call for rain, which has been preserved for posterity at YouTube.

"Would it be wrong," asks Shepard, "to pray for rain?"

I can only conclude that Shepard doesn't understand what prayer is all about. From the MSNBC article:

He prayed for there to be rain—abundant rain, torrential rain, “rain of Biblical proportions”—in Denver on August 28th. “I’m praying for unexpected, unanticipated, unforecasted rain that starts two minutes before the speech is set to begin,” he said, adding, “I know there will probably be people who will pray for seventy-two degrees and clear skies, but this isn’t a contest.”

At least Shepard is correct that prayer isn't a contest. Still, he ought to take some time to consider what it might mean if we ask God to do something and it doesn't happen.

Years ago, I read Richard Foster's book, Celebration of Discipline. The chapter on prayer includes these words:

Perhaps the most astonishing characteristic of Jesus' praying is that when he prayed for others he never concluded by saying, "If it be thy will." Nor did the apostles or prophets when they were praying for others. They obviously believed that they knew what the will of God was before they prayed the prayer of faith. They were so immersed in the milieu of the Holy Spirit that when they encountered a specific situation, they knew what should be done.

The point is so important, Foster restates it later from another angle:

One of the most critical aspects in learning to pray for others is to get in contact with God so that his life and power can flow through us into others. Often we assume we are in contact when we are not. For example, dozens of radio and television signals went through your room while you read these words, but you failed to pick them up because you were not tuned to the proper frequencies. Often people pray and pray with all the faith in the world, but nothing happens. Naturally, they were not tuned in to God. We begin praying for others by first quieting our fleshly activity and listening to the silent thunder of the Lord of hosts.

In both of these passages, Foster is talking about prayers for others. Though he doesn't say so, the same ought to be true about prayers against others as well.

I won't presume to say that imprecatory prayer is always wrong. But before praying for a calamity, I would want to be sure God is preparing to bring one. Was it wrong for Stuart Shepard to pray for rain during Barack Obama's speech? Clearly, it was.

Labels: ,


At 9/13/2008 7:42 AM, Blogger Steve Hayes said...

Did he cut himself, like the prophets of Baal?

At 9/13/2008 9:01 AM, Blogger truevyne said...

Oh, brother. Sometimes I can't believe the stuff people do...
May God open Shepherd's eyes and heart to pray for God's heart and to know His will like the apostles.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home