Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Prayer Changes Things

I have an uneasy relationship with this quote by E. Stanley Jones:
Prayer is surrender; surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will. If I throw out a boathook from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God.1
On the one hand, it seems to make sense. On the other hand, it seems incomplete. Perhaps, as with many things in God's creation, we must hold two concepts in tension: "prayer changes me" and "prayer changes the world."

Over the years, two other people have influenced how I have prayed. First, in his book, The Fourth Dimension, Paul Yonggi Cho lists four steps in his incubation formula: 1) Visualize a clear-cut goal or idea in your mind; 2) have a burning desire for your objective; 3) pray until you get the guarantee or assurance from God that what you desire is already yours; 4) speak or confess the end result into existence.2

Furthermore, George MacDonald has given me confidence:
“If God heard only perfect prayers, how could he be the prayer-hearing God?”3

My prayers are constantly influenced by all three of these spiritual guides. May we all pray and see more answers to prayer.

1. Jones, E. Stanley. Liberating Ministry From The Success Syndrome. Tyndale, 1988., p. 73.
2. Cho, Paul Yonggi. The Fourth Dimension. Plainsfield: Bridge Publishing, 1979, p. 9-35.
3. Phillips, Michael R., editor, and George MacDonald, author. The Highlander's Last Song. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1986. p.35.


Anonymous said...

I'm totally tracking with E. Stanley Jones and George MacDonald. I'd be interested to hear what scriptural back-up there is for Paul Yonggi Cho's method. Is there a certain passage he uses to build that method?

Keith Shields said...

To "faithplusart,"

The whole book by Cho had a great influence upon me as a young college student. It is worth the read to see how he develops the model.

The scriptures he uses to support his ideas related to each step are as follows.
1. Pray specifically: Mark 10:46-52, Mark 11:24 and James 1:6. (The blind man is the best and most developed example. Jesus says, "What do you want me to do for you?" Isn't it obvious? The man is blind. But Jesus wants him to ask specifically.)
2. Have a burning desire: Proverbs 10:24 and Psalm 37:4.
3. Pray for assurance: Hebrews 6:11 and 11:1.
4. Speak the word: 2 Corinthians 4:13.
Sometimes the book only alludes to passages of the Bible flowing from the author's vast knowledge of memorized verses. Sometimes the scripture references are my adaptations of what I believe Cho was referencing even when he was not explicit.


Anonymous said...

That's really interesting, I'm going to try to fold that into my prayer life for a while and see what I learn. One thing I need to do is read more great books!