When Praying About It is the Wrong Answer

Erik Cooper —  February 23, 2011 — 4 Comments

“I’m praying about it” is the “LOL” of pious church goers. You rarely mean it, but it makes you feel lighter. Releases the nervous tension.

LOL is the digital garnish of text messaging and social media. Come on, you’ve never really LOL’d have you? Admit it. It’s a verbal ruse, like “The check’s in the mail,” or “It’s not you, it’s me.” (Hint: it’s always you).

“I’m praying about it” (or IPAI) is usually just another incarnation of these lingual gymnastics.

I’ll admit, I’ve fabricated a few “IPAIs” in my day. A few that probably had God tagging His own status update with a ROFLOL.

Let’s be honest, we don’t pray enough. As long as circumstances don’t become too big for us to handle, we’re happy to plunge fully into the day’s opportunities with little acknowledgment of our need for supernatural intervention. No problem, I got this.

Yet when the answers are obvious but scary (or maybe just costly), we’re quick to 180 and use prayer as the ultimate Jon Acuff Jesus Juke for justifying our inaction.


Sometimes I use prayer as my excuse for being a coward.

Sometimes I need to stop praying about it and just go do it.

Start the business. Give the money. Have the difficult conversation. Volunteer the time. Quit the job. Go on the trip. Make the tough call.

These things always require prayer, submission, and surrender. But they also demand massive amounts of courage. Don’t get caught using prayer as an excuse to be a coward. Sometimes God has already made the answer clear and it’s simply time to find the guts to act.


How about you?  Have you ever used IPAI as justification for not doing what you need to do?

4 responses to When Praying About It is the Wrong Answer

  1. Erik –

    I think you’re right on the money! I’ve used it admittedly before but am trying to be more purposeful about both my prayer life and listening and obeying the Spirit.

    I also feel that the pharse “I don’t feel called”, IDFC, is also gaining in popluatiry among the Christianized. And, most of the time, IDFC should stand for “I don’t feel comfortable” doing a certain thing or volunteering in a certain area or capacity (a potentially dangeorus cop-out, again using the God card).

    I often encourage people who think “I’m not called” to that to get involved in that, whatever it is. It may be the very thing God will use to stretch and grow your faith.

    Enjoy the blog! Keep it up.

    • I hear you Will. Great challenge. “I don’t feel comfortable” is one of my worst (never overtly spoken) excuses.

  2. Ouch!
    I remember a time about 4 years ago when I was asked to do/lead the “Nursing Home Ministry.” I spent much time in praying and fasting over such a commitment. I honestly wanted God to “lead me” into this decision “without any doubts.” I figured, if I didn’t have God’s conformation in this ministry endeavor, I would have to rely on my own strength and do it in MY power. (Oh, did I mention, I have never lead a Sunday School class or that I have no training in this area? Scary.)

    This went on for weeks. Nothing. No wet ground or dry fleece. No lightning clap. No still small voice. Nothing, nada, well, except maybe when I visited Lakeview when they were having Pastor Ron’s Dad’s funeral. I can’t tell you exactly what was said, but a message about one of the messages that Ron’s dad did, touched me. And that “touch” lasted about a whole day. It was not exactly what I was looking for from God. (Where’s the faith in that?)

    It sure would be convenient if God acted the way I thought He should. Reminds me of a statement made by CS Lewis, “God mad man in His own image and we turned around and returned the favor.”

    You are so right, “Sometimes I need to stop praying about it and just go do it.” Reminds me of the advice God gave to Moses just before he crossed the Red Sea. “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Quit praying and get the people moving! Forward, march!” Exodus 14:15 (TLB)

    I would love to tell you how well this ended, however I did not have your blog to encourage me back then. I’m afraid I am a self-inflicted casualty of “IPAI, but God better answer me, my way.”

    On the bright side, the old man with failing health, whom I was to be replacing, took marvelous a turn for the better. God always finds the right person for the right job, even if it’s the same guy.

    I have also found, and need to remind myself, that when you want to serve God, He serves trough you to others, so it’s not really about me any way. If it was, then I would get the glory and it’s really all about Jesus.

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