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