How Prayer Exposes the Illusion of Control

Prayer Positions Us

Prayer reminds us that control is an illusion, a farce. We don’t have it. But, far from driving us to depression, I think this fact drives us to dependence. When we depend on God, we see him in a whole new light. We’re reminded that the God that we serve is eager to do good to us.

This is not a God that has to be coerced into solving our problems, but this is a God whose concern for our problems predates our awareness of the very problems that we have.

God is eager to come through. He’s eager to bless, to help his children.

More than that, God himself tells us the things that we should pray for so that we don’t have to invent them all ourselves. God is eager to come through. He’s eager to bless, to help his children. When we give up control, we’re reminded that it’s not a bad thing to be in need. Some of the best news that we have is that we aren’t in control because we serve a God that is.

Gratitude Instead of Grumbling

Moreover, I think it really reminds us that gratitude is much more appealing than grumbling. We tend to grumble when we feel like we’re not in control. Between infidelity and infertility—and everything in between—the church is reminded that there are many things to grumble about.

If you ever walk into a church that’s full of grumbling, frustrated people, you will see bitterness. You don’t even have to see it. You can come in and sense it. It’s like a dead rat behind a thin wall. You just know that it’s there.


John Onwuchekwa

Examining what Jesus taught about prayer and how the first Christians approached prayer in the early church, this book offers practical advice for those eager to prioritize prayer in their churches. Part of the 9Marks: Building Healthy Churches series.

But as we come together and pray to a God that’s been good to us and desires to do good to us, grumbling is erased by gratitude when we thank him for the things that he’s provided that we didn’t even ask for. We thank him because as we call out to him and pray, we’re only asking him to do the things that he’s already promised to do. So we don’t have to coerce him. God is eager. We’re not in control and that’s the best news that we’ve heard all day.

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