The biggest enemies of prayer are assumptions

July 25th, 2011 · by Tom Stuart · Prayer

”Once more the Philistines raided the valley; so David inquired of God again, and God answered him.”  (1 Chronicles 14:13-14)

The biggest enemy of prayer is assumptions.  Now I am talking here about false assumptions.  Assumptions lead to presumption and presumption preempts prayer.  And the biggest false assumption of them all is that you do not need to pray because God will take care of it or do it anyway.  When we assume that, we are basically saying that prayer does not make a difference.  That of course is a foolhardy and dangerous position to take.

But the entire Bible tells us just the opposite.  As John Wesley put it so succinctly – “God does nothing except through prayer.”  Everything God says about prayer and the way His people relate to Him in the Scriptures through prayer confirm this fact.  Repeatedly He tells us that we are to seek Him so that He can act on our behalf.  Jesus summed it all up when He told us to ask, seek and knock. (Luke 11:9-10)  From God’s dealings with Abraham, Moses and the children of Israel, King David and the kings, to the prophets and leaders of the restoration we see prayer as the central means of moving His hand and establishing His will in the earth. (Genesis 18, Exodus 17:8-13, 1 Chronicles 14:8-17, Nehemiah 1) 

One of the most inspirational accounts of no-presumption prayer is the story of David fending off two identical, back-to-back attacks by the Philistines. (1 Chronicles 14:8-17)  It illustrates how refraining from presumption motivates a person to pray.  In response to the first attack David prayed asking God whether or not he should go to battle against them and if he would win.  God gave the go ahead, he attacked the Philistines and was victorious.  But then they attacked again. 

Based on his previous victory, David could easily have assumed that God would do the same thing again for him and that prayer was not necessary.  But he did not assume that.  Once again he inquired of God, but this time he was given different instructions.  God told him to circle around behind them and wait for a sign to commence the attack when he heard the “sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees.” (vs. 14)  David did as God commanded him and gained another victory.

I have also learned a few things from my own personal experience about the dangers of making false assumptions that lead to prayerlessness.  In addition to the root assumption that God will simply take care of things without prayer, here are six more assumptions that are enemies of prayer. Don’t fall prey to them!

1. Don’t assume God doesn’t love or care for you.  This is a huge hindrance to prayer.  Unanswered prayer, misfortune, and/or sin in our lives all try to convince us that God will not be there for us this time.  That is a lie.  Nothing can separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.  (Romans 8:38-39)  God is a merciful and full of compassion.  As that great old hymn reminds us “His eye is on the sparrow and He watches over you.” (Matthew 10:29)

2. Don’t assume God is not interested or it is too small a thing!  If He has even the hairs of your head numbered, nothing you are concerned about is too insignificant for Him.  (Luke 12:7)

3. Don’t assume it is too big a thing to bother praying about!  Huge problems, insurmountable odds and catastrophic events on a national or world scale can be overwhelming.  But God invites us to pray because the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man or woman availeth much. (James 5:16)  Our seemingly insignificant prayer may not change the world but it can change one person’s world.

4. Don’t assume you can handle it yourself!  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding . . .” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

5. Don’t assume your ideas and opinions are God’s.  We dare not assume that we know what God is thinking without asking Him.  “His thoughts are not our thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8)

6. Don’t assume God is on your side!  This is a subtle temptation when we get into a relationship conflict.  Like Joshua, we need to be reminded that God does not choose sides, but rather we must seek to align ourselves with Him and His will.  (Joshua 5:13-15)  

Do you have any assumptions to add to the list?  Comments welcome!

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