I woke to the news of a black motorist being shot unjustly by a police officer who had pulled him over for a broken taillight. The young man, even though in compliance, was killed in front of his daughter and girlfriend while reaching for his ID. The next day I awaken to news that at a protest rally in Dallas, TX, 5 police officers were killed in retaliation to the increased number of black men being killed at the hands of police officers. As I opened my social media apps I was met with pictures and statements concerning these recent incidents in our country but I saw another jarring statement that was echoing repeatedly, "prayer doesn't work, it's now time to act."
I have to agree with them, they're absolutely right, prayer doesn't work! I'm sure you're in question. How can you say that pastor? In their experience and many peoples alike, prayer hasn't proven to be effective at all. Prayer has simply been this attempt in hope that some spiritual being will hear their petition and do what they say. But that's not how prayer works.
Prayer isn't talking to a "God," as many people believe. Pray is communicating with God, which includes talking and listening. And God has given us the scriptures to show us how to approach Him. We can't approach the creator of all things any way we choose. Even the disciples at one point said to Jesus teach us how to pray. Which helps us understand that these men who grew up as Jews understanding and adhering to Jewish practices and customs realized they were doing something wrong and realized they needed to change their approach. People don't realize there are many different types of prayers (faith, intercession, supplication, healing, etc.) all having different rules that govern them.
As far as the state of our country, protesting, voting for the right candidates, new laws, etc., none of this will produce change. Our social problems are far beyond what any person or social group or agenda can shift and produce healing. But there is one group God said that can cause the land to be healed, His people.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
This scripture outlines the approach for any nation to see change and experience healing. The instructions are simple...
1. My people: not a government, not a social group. "My" also means these people have a relationship with Him. They know Him as oppose to knowing about Him. My people also means it's a collective group responsibility not an individual. This people group as a whole must come together. But this isn't enough, our nation already has national day of prayer...
2. Humble themselves: the church must take a position of humility, realizing we don't have the answers nor the wisdom. Only God has that.
3. We must pray: there has to be communication and dialogue with God. We cry out to God but what does He say in response?
4. Seek His face: we must request, demand, desire, require, strive after His person. We pray until we see Him.
5. Turn from their wicked ways: people want God to change the land and the hearts and minds of the citizens but they themselves aren't willing to change. We (God's people) must change first so that God can produce change in the nation. As long as the church and the world looks the same, there will be no change. There will be no healing for our country.
People aren't willing to follow all the steps as outlined by the scriptures in approaching God. But they want God to hear them when they pray. That's not how prayer works. "Prayer doesn't work..." They're right, nothing works as long as it's continued to be done wrong.