Who Can Pray?

11  Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

41  “When a foreigner who lives in a distant land hears of your fame and of the great things you have done for your people and comes to worship you and to pray at this Temple, 43  listen to his prayer. In heaven, where you live, hear him and do what he asks you to do, so that all the peoples of the world may know you and obey you, as your people Israel do. Then they will know that this Temple I have built is the place where you are to be worshiped. 1 Kings 8:41-43 (TEV) 

20  Some Greeks were among those who had gone to Jerusalem to worship during the festival. 21  They went to Philip (he was from Bethsaida in Galilee) and said, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” John 12:20-21 (TEV)

I really do believe that a serious danger of losing the way threatens those who launch out into action—activism—while neglecting prayer, self-denial, and those means without which it is impossible to achieve a solid piety: receiving the Sacraments frequently, meditation, examination of conscience, spiritual reading, and constant recourse to our Lady and the guardian angels … Besides, all these means contribute in a way that nothing else can, to making the Christian’s daily life a joyful one, for from their hidden riches flow out the sweetness and joy of God, like honey from the comb.

All who are outside the Christian church, whether heathen, Turks, Jews, or false Christians and hypocrites, even though they believe in and worship only the one, true God, nevertheless do not know what his attitude is toward them. They cannot be confident of his love and blessing. Therefore they remain in eternal wrath and damnation, for they do not have the Lord Christ, and, besides, they are not illuminated and blessed by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  (2)

This post started out as a discussion point, based on a conversation yesterday.  The question then was, can a unbeliever pray to God, and can a Christian pray with, instead of for, a unbeliever, or someone who believes in some other deity. (including themselves)

But even as I am writing this, and pulling out the quotes above, I am convinced the question is not whether they can pray. Rather, the question is why people do not, including those who should know the blessing of prayer.  For many know the promises of spending intimate time, whether a few minutes or hours or a weekend in prayer.

Finding relief from burdens, finding confidence in God’s presence, even in the midst of adversity, hearing God’s voice and knowing the comfort His presence brings.  Learning to understand what brings Him joy, and crying with Him over those who do not hear Him.  Just spending time with Him.

Prayer is important enough that Solomon dedicated the temple where God put His name, in order that His people would know nothing, especially their own sin, could separate them from His love.  He set aside an area for what is noted above – that those who heard of them but were not God’s people (yet) could pray, That they cold recognise the desire for eternity that was in their hearts, was placed there so they would seek Him!  That even those, like the Gentiles (term for people not in a covenant relationship with God) could ask to see Him. That Samaritans and prostitutes and tax collecters and everyone would know HIs desire – that they would be drawn to them.

That they would be His people, that they would become the children of the Father, the brothers and sisters and friends of Jesus.

They would converse with God. That they would share His life, and He would share in theirs.   No, that He would be theirs.  This is what prayer is, the dialog of those in a special, intimate relationship. God and His people.

It may scare us at first, it usually does.  Gideon was afraid, as was Isaiah.  David was when he realized his desire gave way to sin, and that meant he would alienate the Holy Spirit.   The idea of intimacy with God may be scary, but not if we realize that this is His idea, that this is the scope of His work.

Anyone can call out to God, even if all they know is what general revelation speaks of, as the heavens and earth declare His glory.  That cry can be a simple save me, or Lord, I need to know you are out there.  And we can pray that with them, for we know the difference it makes in our life.

And we should pray, dear fellow believers.  Whether it is simply because we know God commands and encourages it or because we are coming to realize that mercy and love that He has for us.   It may start out as an exercise, a discipline.  It will turn into a life…. a life walked in/with Christ.  A life we all need, desperately, a life of prayer that becomes a joy.

A life that sustains us….and causes us to weep for those who do not know it….yet.

(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). Friends of God (Kindle Locations 502-506). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition. 

(2)  Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 419). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.


About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on March 11, 2015, in Augsburg and Trent, Devotions, Poiema and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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