Let’s all pray for (insert name) who you may remember was in the news a while back for reasons we disapproved of. Well, it seems like they’ve fallen on hard times, which is of course a direct result of their (insert political views, lifestyle choice, unpopular beliefs, etc.). This person clearly needs the LORD, and as true followers of Christ, we should pray that they come to recognize their sin and disobedience. Who knows? Perhaps God will use this time of suffering to show them we were right all along?
In Jesus Name, Amen
We’ve all heard this type of prayer before. Maybe it was spoken over the radio, or seen written in a Christian blog. Maybe you heard it from a friend in Bible study, and marveled at how they relished disclosing every “tragic” detail. It’s the kind of prayer that doesn’t just sound insincere, it sounds cruel. While some Christians might label it gossip, I prefer to call it something else: Predatory Prayer.
Predatory Prayer is any conversation used to tear down or gloat over the misfortune of others. Even when spoken among believers, these words have the potential to inflict lasting harm. To get a better understanding of the danger they present, here are just three destructive qualities of a Predatory Prayer,
It Damages Our Witness
“Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” – Colossians 3:12
The Gospel is a message of hope. It tells how God gave up everything to reconcile us to Himself, even going so far as to die for our sins. When we become a Christian, we become a reflection of Christ. That way, when the world witnesses our actions, it doesn’t just see us, it sees God. Now, imagine what they see when we engage in Predatory Prayer?
The Kingdom of God is no place for spite, condescension, or conceit. When we pray, we should consider the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Remember, none of us were saved by our own merit.
It Vilifies Our Neighbors
“The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" – Galatians 5
We often hear how Christians should “speak the truth with love” to our neighbors. Indeed, Jesus found this so important that he actually created an entire parable just to show his followers what loving their neighbor actually looked like. When we pray for our neighbors, it should be done in humility and grace, with a great deal of soul-searching beforehand (Matthew 7:3). Predatory Prayer does none of these things.
Instead, Predatory Prayer assumes the worst about someone. It delights in spreading discord and creating suspicion. A person who speaks in such a way doesn’t love their neighbor, they deign to love their neighbor.
It Dishonors God It
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” – Matthew 6
Prayer is our lifeline to God. No matter where we are, no matter what we’ve done or what we’re going through, God has promised that He will always hear us when we call out. Can we even begin to comprehend what an amazing gift this is? I think Psalm 8 put it best when it states,
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”
How can we take such an incredible gift and use it for petty aggression? Predatory Prayer doesn’t just bring shame to our faith, it distorts our very relationship with God. Prayer is a fundamental part of Christian life, and it should never be used to do harm.