Production Values: Prayer

Posted: 2011 07 26 by jmmllr in Biblical manhood, Discipleship, Hardcore Christian Men, Production Values
Tags: , ,

I’ve been mulling this one over for a while now. The question has been rolling around in my brain: what is it that prayer produces in the life of the disciple? And what on Earth does it mean for men?

As I was thinking about it I got my answer.

But first, I want to share some observations.

Men are wired to think through problems. I’ve said this before. We want to solve things, and God has blessed us with the genetics to go after problems at the source and root them out. We sink our teeth into problems, and don’t let go until we’ve bitten off a chunk. We obsess and find our drive in the places that we think we’re going to be the most useful.

Secondly, think of all the people that you know who are ‘prayer warriors’. How many of them are women? 

I think that these two observations are actually two sides of the same coin.

Since as men we’re wired to go after problems at the root, prayer seems foreign to us. Even as I was mulling over what to write I didn’t pray for wisdom, clarity, or words. I read, thought and wrestled with texts. I was active. But prayer is passive.

My Grandmother was the kind of woman who planned dinner around the kind of desert she would make. Never one to impose and God forbid she be a burden on her family, she battled cancer for a decade without telling anyone in our family – even her husband. Faith seeped out the pores of her skin – whether it was playing the organ in her little country church or leading kids to Christ at camp, her faith was never in question to me. But for the life of me, I’ve never heard her profess her faith. I have no idea what she believed about propitiation or sanctification – or any other three dollar word that theologians like to use. But I do remember coming down the stairs in her house in the morning and seeing her knelt at the side of her bed praying for me and her whole family.

What a difference. I can hardly believe we’re related.

I think that the difference is a generational thing as much as it’s a gender gap. For guys, especially us younger guys, we’re constantly wired, and constantly on the move – we leave no time for passivity, and as a result, no room for prayer.

For me, I see this discipline flowing out of the previous one. We need to make time in our lives for stillness and passivity so we can pray.

And all that’s just to say why guys don’t pray as much as we should.
What about why we should?

Prayer is actually a two-fold production value.

First, prayer produces coincidence. An old mentor of mine used to remind me of that reality. We pray and things tend to happen. Whether it’s timely help, a convenient omission, or just something that blesses your life in ways you never even imagined; when we pray, coincidences happen. Let me challenge you: if you’re a praying man and want to see God in action, if you ever feel like God is distant, keep a prayer journal and write in it regularly. When you find yourself looking for answers, look at how God has been responding to you in the past and let that encourage you for the future.

But Secondly, and more important: Prayer produces weakness. A lifestyle of prayer is a lifestyle that says that I am not enough by myself. That I need help. Again, as before, these are not natural inclinations for guys, but that’s what makes them so important. We’re wired to want to be strong enough, but the truth is that eventually your strength will wear out. Eventually your wisdom will fail. Eventually your beauty will fade. A lifestyle of prayer is about a complete and total reliance on eternity, rather than here and now. Look at what the Bible says about prayer:

“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” Against the backdrop of the temple’s completion, this is the promise that God makes to Solomon. You still need me, says God. You did this by your hands, but it came from me. You still need me. Watch how quick it can be taken away.

Or take Jesus: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” Nothing in that prayer gives the slightest indication that we can do any of this on our own. We  can’t bring the kingdom, we can’t eat, we can’t even be forgiven without God doing His part in our lives.

Prayer produces weakness.

Period. Full stop. I want to leave it there (partly because this post is getting long!) but I want to say one more thing really quickly. Prayer produces weakness, and weakness produces prayer. A lifestyle of prayer shows us how much we need God more and more every day, and so this lifestyle of prayer feeds itself. Because of that I think that this production value, more than any other is settled right in a man’s wheelhouse. When we invest in this production value growth that we can track happens. And who doesn’t love to see growth when they go the gym?

In Him,

For a very thorough examination of the issue of prayer and coincidence, check out David Owen’s book Causes and Coincidences

  1. I often don’t find myself in prayer until I am worn and weak. This is particularly true as I try to maintain our website and blog. I try to ask God for wisdom and direction before I proceed, but sometimes I think I can do it on my own. This is not the case.

    I’m glad God has been patient with me and that He does hear my prayers. Sometimes, I will not know what to write in my blog, so I will spend time in His Word, or in prayer. An hour or so later, the blog will be done. I know it is God speaking through me because I took time to spend with Him, in prayer or in silence. I know I need to do this on a regular basis, but I do have a tendency to wait until I realize I can’t do it alone.

    • jmmllr says:

      Prayer, I think more than anything else, is about conversation. We enter into communion with God and God in turn shows us who we really are, and who we really need.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. jelillie says:

    You are right. We men are wired for action. We are also wired to be channels of a Power highger than our own. When the wiring that leads to action operates independently of the wiring which taps into the power of God, there is disconnect, powershortage, and power outage.
    I don;t see prayer as passive. I see it as actively opening ourselves to the Source who will guide and direct our actions. Prayer is not necessarily weakness though. it could be seen as our necessary pursuit for power. In that case it is more wisdom than anything else!

    • jmmllr says:

      I’m not sure if the pursuit of power for our own ends is a good thing. I think you’re bang on though about being conduits of power. When we allign ourselves in weakness to the only power that matters, we can say to a mountain get up and move into the sea. That, I think, is the real power of prayer.

      • Paul S says:

        You’re dead on here, but I don’t think weakness is the right word. Neither is passive. Prayer is a powerful expression of faith in God to give us the needed power to complete the mission or stay the course, how is asking for that in conversation with our father anything but strength? Submission to God… definitely. Weakness… never.

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