What Prayer Is and Isn’t

The assumptions about prayer in the Scriptures contrast with common Western assumptions. The point about prayer is to change God, not me; it is not to get me to assimilate to what God already intends. Prayer is designed to persuade God to take action in the world. The point about prayer is not therapeutic; it is not to make me feel better. It is not a veiled form of personal commitment (“Lord, make us more concerned for justice”). It is not a means of personal formation. The point about prayer is to get God to act. One of the powerful arguments in this connection in both Testaments is that one’s prayer arises out of a concern for Yahweh’s name, as well as for one’s own suffering.

John Goldingay, Biblical Theology: The God of the Christian Scriptures (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2016), 473.

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