News From Terre Haute, Indiana


November 10, 2012

JOY LADY: The problem may not be prayer; it may be us

Some questions have simple answers. If a man speaks in a forest and there is no woman to hear him, is he still wrong? (Well, duh!) If evolution is true, why is it that mothers still have only one pair of hands? (Uh … Darwin’s mom hired a live-in nanny?) Why don’t some people realize that a hearse is poor transportation for their first visit to church? (Because they don’t believe that hell is for real?) Why do we say we believe in miracles when we don’t rely on them? (Hmm … that’s actually a good question.)

Some questions have not so simple answers. Why do three out of four people have problems with fractions? (They slept through half of their high school math classes?) Why is “abbreviated” such a long word? (Any linguists out there?) Why is it that the mere mention of the word “exercise” makes us wish we could wash out our mouths with chocolate? (Because “exercise” should be a four-letter word — “work!”)

Some questions have obvious answers. Like, why do buffalo wings taste like chicken? Why do we have to wash our hands so often? Is this the part when I smile and nod and act like I’m listening?

Other questions have more complex answers. Like, why is it so hard to pray for others? Scholars and theologians and people much smarter than I have debated and preached and taught about prayer for centuries. They’ve told us how to pray, when to pray, what to pray, why to pray. But still, why is it so hard to pray?

I don’t even pretend to be smart, but I think I’ve come up with a few reasons why it’s so hard to pray for others like we should. First, our prayers for others are sometimes nothing more than lip service. When we first begin our prayers for others, we say a quick, “Lord be with her,” or “Lord, protect him.” We don’t take the time to stand in the gap for others, praying for their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. After our initial meager prayers, our lives get in the way and our prayers stop.

We might not pray the way we ought because we don’t believe God will answer our prayers, especially the way we want Him to. And we might not pray because we are selfish in our prayers. We are praying with our mouths, but our hearts are saying, “God, change this person so that things will go easier for me. Make this person easier to love, easier to work with, easier to be around so that things will be easier for me to deal with.”

All I really know about it all is this: when we find we’re not praying for others the way Scriptures teach, when our prayers are nothing more than mere words we’ve strung together, when praying has become something we have to do rather than something we want to do, the problem is not prayer. The problem is us.

The answer really is that simple.

Verna Davis, speaker and writer, maybe reached at

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