Praying Beyond the Sick List

Medical SnakeDoes our corporate prayer get bogged down by praying for the sick? I was helped immensely by an article that I read today that addresses this question. I want to commend the article to you. It’s by a Christian counselor named David Powlison, and the name of the article is “Praying Beyond Health Concerns.”Powlison argues that our prayers can get bogged down and self-centered if all we do is run through a laundry list of health concerns without also focusing on Kingdom priorities. Powlison argues that we need to pray for the sick, but we need to be doing so much more. Here’s an excerpt:

Many pastoral prayers don’t go beyond the sick list. And even these prayers are not very pointed or intelligent. Instead, they sound uncannily like a nursing report at the local hospital’s shift change:

The colon cancer in room 103 with uncertain prognosis… the lady in room 110 with a gall bladder that’s not yielding to treatment… the broken leg that’s mending well…

Such public prayers may be medically informative, but they are spiritually impoverished. They usually center on physical healing. And they typically amount to nothing more than requests for effective doctors, procedures, and medicines.

Visitors of many churches might be pardoned if they get the impression that God is chiefly interested in perking up our health, and that radiant physical fitness is our greatest need. They might also be pardoned for thinking that God can’t do what we ask, because so many chronic illnesses remain unhealed.

I have observed that pastoral prayers, prayer meetings, and prayer lists, when detached from larger spiritual considerations, too often dishearten and distract the faith of God’s people. Prayer becomes either a dreary litany of familiar words or a magical superstition verging on hysteria. It dulls our expectations of God, or it hypes up fantasy-like expectations.

I encourage you to go read the rest of the article.

(HT: Jim Hamilton)

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