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Why Christians Should Stop Saying “Prayer Works” (And 2 Other Things)

One reason people stay away from Christianity is not because they don’t know any Christians.

It’s often because they do.

Our actions and our words as followers of Jesus have the power to attract or repel people from Christianity.

The number of people who never go to church or follow Jesus keeps growing. And their thinking keeps changing.

So what can we do about it?

Well, in addition to modeling humility, grace, truth, love and so many other things that describe the earliest Christ-followers, we Christians can watch our words.

This post was originally inspired by a piece by Scott Dannemiller wrote, in which Dannemiller urged Christians to stop saying “feeling blessed” whenever something good came their way. He makes a thoughtful, insightful argument around that.

In that vein, here are three other things Christians should really stop saying.

prayer works

1. Prayer works

Should we really stop saying that prayer works?

Well, yes and no.

Most people who say prayer works these days really mean God did what I wanted him to do. As if prayer was a button to be pushed to release exactly what they wanted from the vending machine.

Prayer is not a button to be pushed; it’s a relationship to be pursued.

Prayer does ‘work,’ but it works very differently than we’d like. It still ‘works’:

When we can’t trace out any direct result from our prayer.

When the opposite of what we prayed for happens.

In those moments when we feel very distant from God.

When we bang down the door of heaven for years and are not sure anything is going on up there at all.

There are scores of people inside and outside the church whose spirits are crushed because they prayed (fervently) and:

They didn’t get the job.

Their mom died of cancer.

Their child was born without a heartbeat.

They ended up in a car crash that left them permanently disabled.

Prayer doesn’t ‘work’ because I got what I wanted and they didn’t.

The parade of saints across the centuries would have been shocked to see prayer reduced to God-doing-what-I-asked-him-to-do-when-I-asked-him-to-do-it. God is not a puppy to be trained or a chef in the kitchen who prepares food to suit our every whim. He is sovereign.

As Richard Foster says:

For those explorers in the frontiers of faith, prayer was no little habit tacked on to the periphery of their lives; it was their lives. It was the most serious work of their most productive years. Prayer—nothing draws us closer to the heart of God.

Do things happen supernaturally when we pray? Well, yes they do. But often in ways we cannot understand or even trace out.

I think Christians can take consolation in the fact that when we pray, we often don’t know what to pray for or even how to pray, yet the scriptures tell us the Holy Spirit will translate the prayer into something better than we could phrase in the moment.

So pour your heart out to God. Pray about the things the scripture says are close to God’s heart. And when something ‘goes your way,’ be grateful and offer it back to the God who gave it to you.

And when things don’t go your way, understand that God is still very much in control and very much loves you. Just because God is silent doesn’t mean God is absent.

2. God told me to …

Often, you hear people (and pastors) say things that start with, “God told me to … .”

The longer I follow Jesus, the more hesitant I am to say God told me to do anything specific. Maybe that’s an issue I need to work on, but it springs from my observation that I’ve seen this misused far more than I’ve seen it used well or authentically.

In fact, I’ve often noticed that the more outrageous the claim, the more likely someone is to say, “God told me to … .”

When I hear someone claim God told them to do something, I feel like saying:

God told you to do that? Really? God himself spoke directly to you and told you to specifically build that building for which you have zero money? Or leave that church that you were in deep conflict with without resolving things? Or buy that house that’s way out of your price range? Wow!

Are you sure it wasn’t the pizza? Or the voice in your head that often tells you to do the things you simply feel like doing?

For the record, I believe there are times when God does speak to people today. But let’s be realistic. What made me put this phrase on the list is the number of times I have heard the phrase used to describe a decision that is:

Selfishly motivated (come on, admit it … you’re justifying your impulses).

Contrary to scripture (the scriptures pretty clearly suggest that what you’re doing is sinful … or at least isn’t wise).

Designed to shut down debate (does anyone really think they can win a “God told me” debate?).

I’m not saying God never tells us anything directly, but I am suggesting it happens far less than most of us claim.

So what’s a better course?

Say something like, “Based on what I know from scripture, I believe this is the best/boldest/wisest course of action.”

That makes sense. And then you can have an intelligent discussion.

And you don’t pull the God card to justify something about which Christians and others can have a legitimate discussion.

Or, if you’re just trying to shut down debate, just be honest. I wanted to do it, so I did it. There. Now you said it and everyone will feel better.

If you’re dead honest, you might even realize you made a crazy decision.

3. I could really feel God’s presence

You’ve heard this before. We live in an emotional age and we’ve arrived at a place where many of us feel like we’ve become mini-authorities on when God is present and when God is not.

But analyze that.

The truth is, we tend to feel God’s presence more:

When the band played our favourite song.

When the band played five of our favourite songs in a row.

When the room was packed.

When the decision went our way.

When we felt happy during our quiet time.

Is God only present when we feel him?

Or better yet, is God’s presence synonymous with our ability to detect it?

Well, of course not.

So why do we insist on speaking like it is?

Nowhere did God promise that the Holy Spirit is a feeling or an emotion.

Jesus did explain to us that the Spirit is a Person and moves freely. The Holy Spirit is bigger than our emotions and not subject to our editorial commentary about whether he is present or not.

I have had moments when I believe I felt the presence of God palpably.

But God is just as present:

On our worst days as he is on our best days.

When we are uncomfortable as when we are comfortable.

When we are hurting as when we are healing.

And sometimes … the room was just full, and the band was just really good.

We need to learn to trust in God’s presence especially in those moments we suspect he’s absent.

Know Yourself Better…Know God Better

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What if?

What if Christians started having more intelligent, less consumer-oriented, deeper conversations with people?

What if our relationship with Christ was grounded more deeply in God’s character and less in the constantly shifting circumstances we see around us?

I’m thinking the dialogue inside and outside the church would be so much healthier for it.

What do you think?

Any other things Christians should stop saying now? Scroll down and leave a comment!

Why Christians Should Stop Saying “Prayer Works” (And 2 Other Things)


  1. Kenneth Gray on September 22, 2020 at 9:24 am

    To W. Taylor,
    I am not a pastor or theologian but I will try to answer your questions the best that I can. “What is Mosaic Law?” As I know it Mosaic Law is the law given to Moses during the journey from Egypt to the promised land. This includes the 10 Commandments. “What was tithe and how did it become money?” I’ll start with the first part of this two parter. The tithe was a command from God to the Israelites, through Moses, to give the first 10% of the persons “income” to God. This includes harvested crops, if you were a farmer, but it also means money as not all people actually produce things. Think about it like this, you go to work in an office. You don’t actually produce a product. You get paid to provide a service. It doesn’t matter whether you get paid with money or not. If you got paid with chickens, the first 10% of the chickens would be your tithe. Instead you get paid with money, you still give the first 10% of the money as that is your income. Not all types of labor produce a product. The second part of this two parter is that the tithe has always included money. Even in Moses’ time, not everyone produced a product. The last question, “Can money be eaten?” You could probably swallow coins and chew up paper money, but that wouldn’t be good for you. Instead you use the money to buy food. The last sentence is how money can be eaten, buy food. I don’t know if I have been of any help, but I gave you answers as best as I can. May God Bless You, in Jesus name, Amen.

  2. Joy on May 10, 2020 at 4:51 pm

    Prayer is a divine privilege given to truly converted people so we can seek His face and know Him. All the things peole seem so concerned with in this comment column are just that, things and circumstances they want God to change. What the true cry of our hearts should be is “Oh, God have mercy on me. Change ME and my selfish wicked heart. I want to know you, Lord.” He has promised that if we seek Him with all our heart (desiring nothing but Him) He will reveal Himself to us. I have found this to be always true, whenever my prayers are devoid of all self interest. He will give contentment and blessed assurance that is so deep we stop regarding our earthly life and see eternity. Only God has the power to change a heart like this.

    • Linda Mero on June 28, 2020 at 11:51 pm

      Thank you thank you for that oh boy it’s not about me being great. Shape me make me mould me hold me that’s why I came to Christ from the beginning and HE guided me to HIM I was beating my chest couldn’t change myself. You just reminded me of that I haven’t arrived. GOD bless you

  3. Kenneth Gray on March 30, 2020 at 5:20 am

    Alice H.,
    Yes, people are not going to church. Have you noticed how far from God’s word most churches have become. I personally don’t go because I can’t afford to pay my tithes. I only get paid once a month, so at 10% weekly adds up to 40% to 50% of my income per month. I am poor. Now please don’t think this is sexist or uncaring but another reason is that God says women aren’t to lead in ministry. No women pastors. Let’s not forget the taint of homosexuality in leadership roles in the church. Also women have strayed far from God’s word in attitude. Women today have come to think that they should do everything that men do. God says that women are to wives and mothers, and keep her husbands house. That she be busy at home not in the work force. Feminist Movement is anti God. Now I get to modesty. Look at how women dress these days, more skin showing than fabric. I have seen women in church wearing dresses that show more tit than is covered. I’m not trying to be a dick or misogynist, but just saying what God wants of women. Yes God did create men and women as equal in His sight, but gave them different roles in life. According to the Bible (God’s word), women’s calling is to stay home while the men go to work. Just my opinion that we need to return to the way God intended us to be. I personally don’t know any women that are not disgusted by God’s role for them. How many women do you know that would give up her job and fulfill God’s will. The church needs to get back to God’s intended way. Last is that many people see churches as greedy. Look at all the lavish decors, no church needs mahogany pews, expensive stained glass , gold trim, huge pipe organs, etc. Keep a humble and modest church, and spend the rest helping the poor as God wants us to do. How much does the Popes silk robes cost. How much wealth are churches hoarding. God Bless You Alice.

    • Suhyun Song on May 3, 2020 at 12:13 am

      John 16:24 says, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”

      Jeremiah 29:12-13; “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

      John 5:15 – “And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

      John 9:31 – “We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.”

      1 Peter 3:12 – “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

      Psalm 66:17-20 – “I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!”

    • Antonio Valencia on July 2, 2020 at 3:10 am

      You are spot on.. God bless you!!

    • Jess on July 5, 2020 at 4:44 pm

      It is supposed to be 10% of your income, so if you are always giving 10% then it’s going to be 10%. I just wanted to be sure to make that clear in case you misunderstood. Like 10% of 100$ is 10$…
      If you make 25$ a week you’d give $2.50. Times 4 that’s 10$ so no matter what it should always be 10%.

      • Joy Perew on July 5, 2020 at 7:18 pm

        Dear Jess, Kenneth, and Alice,
        Actually you are all totally off the hook with the whole “tithing” thing unless you are living under the old covenant. There is no tithe in the new covenant. We’ve been fed this lie for so long many have feelings like you three–like it is some kind of obligation we owe God. If you want to be changed by God, and to know God and to walk as Jesus walked, there is NO CHARGE. He does not want one penny from you, but He does want all of YOU–He wants your heart. He doesn’t want to be a part of your life. He will be your life itself or He will not. He sets the terms, not us. If you keep him on the fringes you will continually stumble over things like tithing, and you will never walk in newness of life. This is not about being forgiven and escaping hell. There really is a thing called the new birth, and you don’t get it because you want it or go forward or send a love-gift. You get it because He gives it to you. There is only one salvation and it is always free. Once He lives in you in the person of the Holy spirit, you are changed so much you are just looking for opportunities to give and pour out of yourself. If you don’t have this you are probably not born again. Find a church without a “program.” There are still a handful of them. Jesus never asked for money, Paul never asked for money (except to help the poor in Jerusalem during a famine). Believe it or not there are a few pastors out there who don’t ask for money either. Tithing is an old covenant practice which has been co-opted by the chruch/babylon by greedy, prideful men and women–who capitalize on the ignorance of the congregants (I can’t call them sheep, because these men are hardly shepherds.) Maybe they were taught wrong but the fact they are still perpetuating this concept shows me they are not seeking the Lord with all their hearts, because if they were, they would be repenting in dust and ashes for all the fleecing they have participated in over the years and start paying some of us back four-fold like Zacchaeus did. God always blesses a church that preaches His word uncompromisingly–this is very unlikely when they are preaching for a paycheck. But I’m not saying it is impossible. If your church has to “shut the doors” because people are not giving, it’s probably better that the doors be closed. Don’t buy into the OT tithing sales pitch. I’ve heard one preacher go so far as to say you open yourselves to demon possession if you don’t tithe. There is no end to the lengths lovers of money will go to get their hands on yours. Use your head, people, God doesn’t need our money. His body the church (the real church) doesn’t either. Individual members might, but that’s where we come in and can help and support in many ways when we know of a brother or sister who is struggling. This doesn’t need to go through an offering bag/bucket/plate. Just meet with the person and see how you can help, or include a deacon or elder in the conversation. If they just tell you to add to the coffers, run!
        I hope that was helpful to someone or many ones.

        • Kenneth Gray on July 6, 2020 at 2:00 pm

          Hi Joy,
          I have to disagree with you on this as Jesus said that He was here not to abolish God’s law but to fulfill it. To become the living law.
          I suggest you read the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells His disciples to follow God’s law. Thus Jesus didn’t nullify the OT , He came to make the law perfect. Yes Jesus did change somethings from Mosaic Law, but He says that we’re to still follow God’s commands in Mosaic Law. Thanks, and God Bless You, in Jesus name, Amen

          • Joy on July 6, 2020 at 3:03 pm

            Well, Kenneth,

            As long as you are finding freedom, and joy, fellowship in the Spirit, and supernatural transformation doing what your are doing, go for it. If living waters are flowing from you to others and others to you. That’s what God had in mind for the body of Christ. If you find great joy and not bondage in trying to keep the laws that He came to fulfill, have at it. All I can say, is, good luck with that!


          • W. Taylor on September 22, 2020 at 5:12 am

            What is the mosaic law ? What was tithe and how did it become money ? Can money be eaten ? (I’m confused)

      • Kenneth Gray on July 6, 2020 at 7:38 am

        Hi Jess,
        You said that it’s always 10%. You are right, I understand that 10% of $25 per week is $2.50.
        That is a weekly pay period. Now if you are paid monthly, the above would be $100 per month, 10% is $10. Week 1 – $10 Week 2 – $10 Week 3 – $10 Week 4 – $10, average month, Week 5 – $10, extended month. As you can see when only paid by the month, the tithes add up to $40 to $50 per month. 10% every week. Yearly pay period is even more expensive. Above example of $100 per month equals $1,200 per year. Now 10% of $1,200 is $120. Thus $120 × 52 weeks is $6,240 tithes for the year. As you see being paid by the year is impossible to pay your tithes. I was taught this by a pastor of a church. He said that in order to pay less tithes you would have to change how often you get paid. Does this explain the difference between tithes and how often you get paid. Thanks Jess and God Bless You, in Jesus name, Amen.

        • Joy Perew on July 6, 2020 at 2:17 pm

          My gooness, Kenneth! Where are you getting this garbage? Ten percent of $100 is $10 PERIOD! And if the payments spread out over four weeks or 31 days, it is still only $10 NOT $40 OR $50 like you told Alice. In case nobody caught it, what Kenneth is talking about is that Alice should give 10% of $100 (total monthly income) the first week or the month, and 10% of $100 (still total monthly income) the second week of the month, and 10% of $100 (still total monthly income) the third week and also the fourth, toalling $40 which is 40% of her total monthly income. So basically every time she enters the church building she should pay the same ten percent on the same $100, over and over and over. No decent human being would try to convice Alice she needs to give away ANY of her money (not even 10%) when she is living on minimal income such as she is. Only greedy hirelings do stuff like this “in the name of Jesus.”
          This is totally unbliblical, and for Alice’s benefit, she should know if she wants to give, God himself will direct her how and where to give . . . and it probably won’t be money at all. It is a work He does in one’s heart. It is not meant to be a directive from the pulpit. There are ZERO examples of NT apostles, prophets, pastors, evenaglists, or teachers doing what you are suggesting; the tithe is essentially an old testament tax to feed the Levites. Twist it as you will, the fact is, that IS what it is. God wants our hearts–but like typical self-centered parents these days, we give Him trinkets (money) instead of our lives. Children of money & gift-giving parents instictively know this is not real love, and do you think God (who is infinitely wiser than a small child) is fooled by this? Jesus HATES this and is offended by it. Church is definitely a spectator event for most people, but be that as it may, there is still NEVER any admission fees. You should be ashamed of yourself, telling poor Alice she is obligated to give money she doesn’t even HAVE. The people in her church should be helping her, bless her heart, trying to make ends meet with a fixed income which is likely pretty small. This will be my last post on this site. I’m a bit disappointed to be honest.

          • Kenneth Gray on July 6, 2020 at 2:37 pm

            Hi Joy,
            I’m not recommending that any poor person should give more than possible. I myself live on a fixed income, well below the poverty line. All I was doing was stating the way I was taught, by clergy, how tithing works. Tell me if I’m wrong.
            As for tithing being Old Testament tax for the Levites, well yes it was. God commanded us to tith to the church. Jesus told us to follow the Law of God. Thus the Old Testament command to tith is still active, just like the 10 Commandments.

    • rico on July 30, 2020 at 4:58 pm

      Hey Ken, I have been looking for you. What’s your FB account?

  4. Alice Holland on March 30, 2020 at 3:24 am

    I’m sorry to say to you that prayer DOES work and I feel very sad that so many Christians of today have no Belief or understanding of God and His Promises. I have been to local churches where I wonder why they are there because Belief is just missing . In my day Christians Believed and had their prayers answered. I have been with Him for 53 years and in all that time He has never let me down and I certainly wouldn’t be alive without all His answers to prayers of healing and all my troubles

  5. Kenneth Gray on March 28, 2020 at 10:42 pm

    I hear what you are saying, but the fact that none of my prayers have ever received a Yes answer. Even when they are according to God’s will, from the Bible. I am constantly seeing testimonies of people that had their prayers answered, heard God speak to them, felt God’s presence. Here are a few of my unanswered prayers; – I prayed for my grandmother to get better after her stroke. Instead of healing from God, she had another even bigger stroke and died. – I prayed that my family would be brought back together after my parents split up. That didn’t happen, my father is on his 9th or 10th wife, I’ve lost count. – I prayed for God to stop the abuse my stepfather inflicted on my mother. She ended up with minor brain damage from the beatings. – I’ve prayed for God to deliver me from poverty. Still in poverty 40 years after turning to God through Jesus. – I prayed for healing for my mother when she got cancer. It spread through her whole body before she died a horrible painful death. – I’ve prayed for God to show me how to live a good life. All I’ve endured is a worthless existence. I have failed at everything I ever done to try and live a decent life. These don’t include the numerous prayers for wisdom, understanding, clarity, etc. The Bible says that only does good for us, I just don’t see any evidence of God doing anything to help me. For the last couple of months I have been trying to figure out how to get a skid/pallet of Bibles to give to the poor and needy in my city. Even though I asked God for help with this, all I keep getting is doors slammed in my face. (metaphorically speaking) I am poor and can’t afford the $7000 – $10000 dollars (quotes) to buy the Bibles. That doesn’t count shipping costs. If God won’t even help me spread His word, I don’t know what to think. Is my desire to glorify God wrong?

    • Stephen prine on March 28, 2020 at 11:22 pm

      That brought me to tears, I’m so sorry for your pain and loss, I cant answer those questions I wish I could. As for the bibles, maybe do a blog, or maybe write scripture study and read it, pass it on to people you see, stop by and do bible study to homeless people who don’t get to read bible, I’ve given bibles of my own,away just because the people didn’t have money on buy them, maybe buy one here and one there pass them along, if it saves just one life isn’t that worth more than 7000- 10000 that may not save any? You seem to have a good heart to help people, but think on the woman who was tithing, everyone gave 10% maybe more, but that one woman have penny, Jesus said she gave more because she have all she had. It’s not about how much it’s about giving all, not meaning go give all your money away, but it’s about giving even when you cant. Knowing that you don’t store treasures,here. I’m praying to find the words to help you because I truly do understand your pain, I do. Sometimes God gives us a way we just don’t see it, sometimes the world will give us a way and we let that consume us thinking it’s God’s way but compare it to scripture, pray that God gives you power to heal, power to speak into the chaos, pray for strength, but pray for the peace and not the understanding, sometimes the peace allows you to hear him speak. I have a personal email if you would like to keep in contact, I have a minister friend who is far beyond me when it comes to understanding things which he has taught me alot of the peace of God. Which first I think you need, my opinion, no offense I’m in need of it to, some moments I find it some are harder to. It’s the valley we all walk through. Sometimes we get beaten down to think we will never overcome our shame, guilt, wrongs we face, poverty, health, hunger, strife. But read thessalonians pray for God to let his word speak to you. That church was the poorest in those times, shacks where water poured in, but they found their faith. Read that and pray on it, find you some scripture, maybe write on index cards or keep a little journal and when you feel like all is lost,read some word pray and meditate. It’s not always about money, food, jobs, shelter, it’s about faith, it’s about a testimony, it’s about love, hope, dedication in the word. It’s about showing others God’s grace, you just gave me your testimony, but in all that you went through what was the outcome? You still believe, you still pray, you still seek him..why? Because you know he’s there, you don’t give up and neither has he, your alive,fed,paid,sheltered,healthy I assume, and you have learned from others mistakes to not do what they did. So in reality your blessed, do this next 30 days, pray, and give thanks only for what you have, don’t ask for anything just give thanks study and meditate on his word, give moments of silence, fasting helps, it shows God that your wanting his will to be done in your life, it shows God your determined to build that relationship with him, to comune,to give thanks, to seek him above all else not for yourself but to give him glory. One of my favorite scriptures is ” therefore I do not run aimlessly, I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing, no I train mind and body, in fear, that after preaching to others I myself may be disqualified.” Don’t give up my friend, I’ll keep you in my prayers,

      • Jasmine Roper on April 14, 2020 at 9:32 am

        Stephen your response (March 28,2020 @ 11:22pm) helped me in ways that I can’t put into words. Thank you.

        • Stephen prine on April 14, 2020 at 10:06 am

          @jasmine. I don’t know if you should thank me, I appreciate it but I was just helping, I guess maybe God speaks through others….but glad it helped 🙂

      • Kenneth Gray on April 26, 2020 at 1:03 pm

        I have been trying to just thank God just because He is God as you suggested. It still isn’t bringing me any peace. I recently received a bonus from the government, so I put some on paying down my debt a little, the rest was spent on making care packages for the homeless. I was able to make 8 packages only and after giving them away I felt like a piece of crap because I couldn’t help the other two dozen other homeless people that I saw that morning. I’ve been told that helping even one person is better than none. Why does helping a few people only feel so bad? I thought that helping people was supposed to make you feel good not bad. Thanks and God Bless You.

      • Joy Perew on July 6, 2020 at 2:34 pm

        Have you ever heard the concept of dying to self? If you pray for God to teach you about that, I guarantee He will answer that prayer (like John the Baptist, that “I might decrease and He might increase”. But be ready for a lot of chastening (the Father chastens those He loves). All those things you wrote about above? Not chastening. Chastening is MUCH harder. Dying to self and getting set free from self-pity or self-aggrandizement is a lot harder than enduring a sickness, a death, poverty, homelessness, or even unanswered prayers. No matter how many prayers you pray, you should know that God is not interested in changing your earthly circumstances. He wants to change YOU. That is why He sent His son to die; so He could transform you into His image. Clinging to things in this life will never do.
        I hope you figure this out soon.
        God has things prepared for those who love Him (really love Him — more than themselves) that are more glorious, and more satisfying, and more effective than anything you can imagine.

        • Kenneth Gray on July 6, 2020 at 3:33 pm

          Yes , to give up on everything you are. Leave everything to God and not worry about it. To not be human. Not have any feelings about anything. Leave every hope in the garbage. Never expect anything from God, because he sent Jesus to die for us, our sins. Just give up. I shouldn’t have dreams, hope,, happiness, contentment, peace of mind or piece of mind.
          No one deserves a decent life because God doesn’t care about this life. Is that what you mean. Be nothing, have nothing and be happy about it. Suck it up! I don’t know if this is your take on things. As far as changing us to be like Jesus, that is impossible as only Jesus can be Jesus. We are all sinners and will never be like Jesus in this world. I guess that the glorious, satisfying, effective thing God has for me is endless poverty without purpose. A grand life don’t you agree. Thanks and God Bless You

          • Joy on July 6, 2020 at 6:06 pm

            Dear Kenneth,

            Please stop whining. You MUST BE BORN AGAIN. There is nothing in anything you wrote that evidences that you are. As long as you keep deceiving yourself and insisting you are then the chances of your ever actually experiencing the new birth are pretty slim. Because what you are describing to me is bondage to sin and bitterness towards God and man. Trust me, this is NOT what He died to give you.

            You need to get on your face before Him and cry out for mercy and tell Him the truth, how you are not at all satisfied with Christianity as you are experiencing it now, and if there is more to it than this, and if you really want to know Him (which will mean giving up the pity parties and enjoying sypmathy from others), CRY OUT to the God who IS (not the God of your imagination) and He WILL save you. He promises if you truly seek Him with all your 100% heart, and with no lingering ulterior motives, He will let you find Him. I hope someday, Jesus is not just “the” Lord, but YOUR Lord, your forerunner, your brother, your friend, your bridegroom and your blessed Redeemer and the joy of your life. From everything I read, you are still dead in your trespasses and sin. Try watcing some Brother Zac Poonen; that might help you a bit.

            You have not a whole lot to lose and an infinite amount to gain. But it is not up to YOU, it is all Him. And I’m talking the real God — not hte one you have learned about in yoiur life so far.

            I”m leaving this site now. Too many people with too small views of God and too much focus on the here and now.


    • Mary Cates on April 26, 2020 at 7:18 am

      Kenneth, you really are mixed up about God and prayer. You forget who is the supreme being. It’s not you. God will always do what He wants to do in any given situation. What moves His heart and may changes His mind is our relinquishment of our will to His. Quit kicking against the goads. Let God have His way and accept it as the best outcome….which you will understand when you stand before Him. You are miserable and unhappy because you are a baby in Christ, still drinking milk instead of dining on the meat

      • Kenneth Gray on April 26, 2020 at 12:21 pm

        Mary Cates,
        I know that God will do whatever God wants to. You inferred by your comments that you don’t think I believe in God. 40+ years of never having a prayer answered but still turning to God; to me that shows that my faith in God is still there. Because I don’t understand why God favors some people but doesn’t seem to ever include me. I am trying to understand why is all. I’m struggling at this time to continue to hold this crap life reconciled to God and His apparent lack of interest in my life. I’m sorry if you can’t understand were I’m coming from. May God Bless You.

        • Joy on July 6, 2020 at 2:37 pm

          With all due respect to your 40+ years of “believing.” There is a ETERNAL difference between “believing” and being genuinely born again. Hell is full of “believers”. Seek THE NEW BIRTH.

          • Kenneth Gray on July 6, 2020 at 3:49 pm

            I gave myself to God through Jesus a long time ago. I have actually been baptized twice. Jesus is the Lord. I will never believe otherwise. Yes I am a born again Christian. That doesn’t mean I’m not human, and don’t have earthly needs. We all do. It might be me but I need more than just being alive to experience pain and hardship. Thanks again and God Bless You

    • Suhyun Song on May 2, 2020 at 11:44 pm

      Romans 8:18
      I am sure what we are suffering now cannot compare with the glory that will be shown to us.

    • Bill on May 23, 2020 at 11:29 am

      First and foremost Jesus is concerned for our salvation. He tells us how we find Salvation through him. These challenging times in your life would likely be an opportunity to bring someone to Christ. Sometimes these difficult events are wake-up calls an Open Door . Questions to think about, if your father had found Christ would he likely have stayed married to the same woman? Did you attempt to bring Christ into his life? Your grandmother, our concern here is her salvation. Was she saved? If she was saved she is in heaven now experiencing no pain and we rejoice. If your stepfather found Christ he likely would no longer beat your mom. If your mother were saved she wouldn’t marry someone not. See the focuses are not circumstances and the end cure for all things is Jesus, we only rest fully restored in heaven. A christ-centered life starts with Christ. The Glorious eternal life starts with Christ. Focus is Jesus. Eternal life is Jesus. Focusing on Jesus in your life is everything. Seek ye first kingdom of God and all these other things will be added unto you. God wants as many people as possible to receive His word for folks to learn about His son. If you are not permitted to distribute Bibles to homeless folks I would check myself. For whatever reason you may not be an acceptable vessel. Only you know what it is. Unconfessed sin? Involved in a sinful life? I pray for you.

  6. Kenneth Gray on March 28, 2020 at 9:20 pm

    I do try to be thankful for this crap life. I find it hard tell what to thank God for. Example– I was told that I should thank God for receiving my disability income, but did God have anything to do with it. God gave people free will to make their own decisions. So the people who authorized my disability made a choice, not God. Because of free will God doesn’t make people do anything. So should I thank God for that or the people who made the decision.. Did God build the building I reside in? No, people built it. Am I to thank God for something that He didn’t do, or do I thank the people who built the building for putting a roof over my head. As for opening my eyes and ears to God; I have spent decades listening and looking with no hint, sign, word. Absolutely nothing that I can comprehend. The Bible (his word) doesn’t speak, its not God’s voice. When God spoke to Moses his voice was heard audibly. That is God’s voice, not the Bible. God’s voice and his word are two separate things. Inanimate objects (Bible) don’t speak. Sitting in silence listening for God reveals nothing but silence. But enough, as I tend to babble on and on. Thanks and God Bless you.

    • Stephen prine on March 28, 2020 at 9:41 pm

      Well, yes people granted the disability, but they didn’t have to, out of their good heart rather it be laws or not it was granted. I know people who applied for food stamps only to get denied but did need them, then people who lie to recieve benefits, I can’t point fingers there we all lie. But you did recieve it, so give thanks not because you feel he literally gave it to you but because you have it. That building if someone didn’t build it to shelter people you wouldn’t have it, so give thanks that you do have shelter not because he built it but because you do have shelter, I guess maybe I’m different, I give thanks not because I think God built something or approved something but because I believe that once I pray for it it’s done I have it. Sometimes it goes the other way, but it all works together for his good. And his good is to make your life good, he never wants bad for you, people choose to do bad to you, or people choose to make life harder, but it’s genuinely not the person per say, just emotions or resentment then after the fact most people feel like crap for what they do, say, feel, or act upon. That’s where forgiveness comes in. Let’s hypothetically say, God stopped listening,working,or speaking…. now would the world still turn? Maybe, would people still live if God said I’m gonna go on standby and let them figure it out, yes, would it be a delightful world to live in? Probably not, you gotta understand where God is, and maybe not say where he isnt, cause in reality if you believe like I’m sure you do, he’s everywhere. And everyone has an opinion, but the bible is God’s word, it’s a spoken word, it was written down so people could live by it, his son sent to live it, prophets sent to prophecy it, all relates. So maybe try this, in your prayers, read scripture that pertains to what your going through, a story an example, something then pray on it with your circumstance. His word is their to guide you when you do not see the light, read it, it changes things but it could be subtle, it could be something you wait for, but you have to have faith without doubt that it will work. Trust me man I get it, I’m going through things myself and it’s easier to preach in what I know works than it is practicing it, it’s a battle man, it never stops. The devil seeks to destroy, and will try his best to overcome your, prayers your faith, but you can’t give up, never did God ever say give up. He said keep fighting the good fight of faith and hold onto the eternal promise in which you have. People don’t give him thanks enough, they like to say it’s because I put forth the effort that I won, because I worked harder I got a promotion, because I did this or that, instead of thanking the Lord and humbling themselves. Sometimes, we give up on our battles because we think it’s impossible or because God can’t do it, nothings impossible my friend. Just have faith and pray. It does say nothing pleases God more than faith, so whatever you have a need for, let God search your heart, every need is provided. And your not babbling your venting, that’s what an ear is for is to listen and help each other when we need it. Provide the maybe unanswered prayer we think we never got…. I hope I’ve helped in some way….I’m always open to listen.

  7. Maxine on February 4, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    Stop trying to figure out God. He is omnipresent, omniscience, omnipotent, his thoughts and ways are beyond our comprehension. You cannot read persons mind, hearts or inner being, please stop telling people to stop communicating with God in the only way they know how. At least they are trying to have a relationship with God and share his word and the best way they can. STOP!

    • Stephen prine on March 28, 2020 at 8:02 pm

      To Kenneth gray,
      I’m not sure how to write this, believe me I’ve been there, I prayed awhile for things in my life and nothing really worked out like I wanted and yes, at times it can be deterring and almost take away faith from your life. But these last couple years I have been doing things differently in my life, my prayer has changed and I’m not saying to boss God, but sometimes you have to read the word of God, not saying you dont. But I know it’s written long time ago, but the meaning is still there, the spirit is still there, each time you read a verse it speaks differently. Job is good example, bet he had the thoughts we all had/have of giving up but He spoke good of the Lord because he knew the Lord was righteous, he knew that his judgement was just. Not knowing that it was a test to prove satan wrong, but he did. Our lives are that way, yes job prayed for answer after answer for any information as to why it was happening. Do not fret, sometimes the best prayers are silence, sometimes you just have to be still and let God speak to you through his spirit. I’ve done this, sometimes it works, sometimes I just feel peace which in any case is all we need, just a peace that allows us to make a sometimes different choice in the whatever your going through pray, but be still, or just don’t speak, just sit in silence and listen to the Lord speak. Open your eyes to the Lord, your ears to the Lord and your heart. I could list alot of scripture pertaining to this but it’s true. Sometimes the devil will also hit us even through our fellow christians who don’t even know they are being used for that. Sometimes we can pray all day and then completely miss what he has given us, I’ve done it. But maybe if we had taken the time to give thanks for what we did have and humble ourselves against the things we didn’t have or didn’t really need cause were alive today to speak. I do not mean any offense to you in the least, just my opinion. Sometimes we miss things, I know I can get frustrated alot by remembering times I was done wrong, or taken advantage of and never knew it, but I also look back and think well, if I didn’t help that person who would have. Rather they took advantage of me or not, God still used me to come to a need. They could see it as a blessing or laugh and say we got him. That’s on them, I know the Lord was happy that I met a need. So yes sometimes prayer doesn’t work in the sense that we see it, but your prayers are usually answered the moment you ask, you just have to have faith they are.

  8. Irl on December 31, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    Interesting how only a few comments in general and SO many in 2019. Or maybe I just missed some on the way. I was shocked at the bottom of this article finding out this was written over 3 years ago. How time flies. Getting to the point. All of what you say Carey is correct. Some may not agree to your vernacular. It doesn’t matter it’s a good read and things that should be taken to heart. In the scriptures it even states what comes out of our mouth can, as they say today, “kill or cure”. Speaking from experience I took hold of my Christian life and changed more directions in churches than The Rockies have mountains…. It’s been a painful ride. I’ve seen more pain than a person should. I’ve experienced pain more than a person should. None of us should but it happens. When I get to Heaven I want to meet Job. Not the Apostle Paul…Job. Yes I’m going to Heaven. John 3:16. Enough said.

    I have seen great miracles, healing, demons cast out, addictions stopped, etc. Regardless there is MUCH more bad than good in this world. Listen to the news for 15 minutes. There’s your answer. Emotional Christianity is a dog and pony show. There are many churches and sadly many pastors that encourage that. Jesus, who is supposed to be our example, was emotional twice. Once in the Temple and once for his friend Lazarus. So I don’t see a reason to be emotional in church when 99% of church goers don’t get emotionally joyful the rest of the week in their homes, on the street, in the stores, at work or anywhere else for that matter. Most times it a very negative emotion the next day at the neighbor’s dog, or the traffic, etc.

    I’m no saint by any means but in my neighborhood we all need saving many times for the dumb (bad) things we say. I could write many books and if given the inclination speak on the garbage our society spews daily and churches spew back. THE most critical organization in the world is the church. Ask any hardluck person trying to make a positive influence and they will tell you Christians were the worse critic. What’s the answer? Honesty with God and mostly ourselves. Christians are to share the Gospel not their Glory slinging. Honesty! A non christian will more appreciate our weaknesses and failures and trials and finally successes and real joy within. Then they will see the truth…not the dog and pony show. How did God mold our lives to a better person, better relationships, and find peace even in the midst of potential total loss? There is the real witness of God’s love.

    So I just bashed the church aka Christians. Meh. Not the church but the negative actions. My hero Billy Graham once said speak with your heart not your mouth to God.. (personal experience not a famous quote) I think there are a few scriptures on that. It’s a foot in mouth epidemic. Christians are inherently good and many very good hearted people. (New creation, slate wiped clean, better reason to live…you get the hint) Right intentions don’t always bring right speaking. Maybe we all need more prayer time for “that” wisdom James speaks of in his first Chapter.

    Many will read this and find a reason to disagree to my opinion here. Oh well. At least I did find a good reason to post this. I have learned many hard lessons in life and lost too much to say. Yet in the midst of finding a reason to end the misery… I found the Peace of God and a reason to live. Ironically in a time and place I never expected. To those who believe in the Eternal God and His sovereignty go to His court and present your petitions with your heart! Jesus is your mediator and your witness is his shed blood. He is the reason for all the seasons of our lives. On this New Years eve…for those who have a great need I write Peace to you and God grant you your petitions. For all else I wish the same and a Happy New Year to all.

  9. Kenneth Gray on October 18, 2019 at 1:34 am

    I think people should stop saying God cares and wants to help. If God wants to help I believe He would, but who can say they actually got anything from God, no one. I’ve been praying for 4 decades and not a peep from God, and believe me I’ve been listening. Only silence can be heard and prayers not answered observed. Thank you for the opportunity to say my piece.

    • burningfeet on February 13, 2020 at 3:27 pm

      I agree with Kenneth Gray’s comment! I started praying 42 years ago and Kenneth summed things up rather nicely! I don’t any longer believe those who claim that God cares and wants to help!

    • Kenneth Gray on February 13, 2020 at 9:28 pm

      I believe that this comment was taken out of context. I was trying to say that nobody knows what God wants. Telling people that God wants to help them, and then God doesn’t help. This is hurtful. Telling people that God answers prayers to only see their prayers dashed against the rocks. This is hurtful. Telling people to trust in God, just to watch their lives crumble. I just don’t think that anyone should have be fed false hope. God is God. None of us can know how God thinks or acts, so stop telling people what God wants to do or what God thinks. I believe in God and Jesus, but I am not arrogant enough to say I know anything about them. The Bible was written long after the facts , thus is a useful tool. The Bible was passed by word of mouth, memory changes over time. Thus the Bible probably isn’t 100% accurate, meaning we can’t know God’s will that way. Like I said before, I can’t make God do anything God doesn’t want to do.
      God Bless Everyone (hopefully)

      P.S. – sorry to anyone that may have been offended by my comments. I didn’t mean to be disrespectful.

      • M.Burrell on February 22, 2020 at 2:38 pm

        It is okay do not worry God warned us about you before you were ever born. He told me through his word that in the last days scoffers would come. How true is his Word (2 Peter 3:3-4) Jude 1:18. (Acts 13:41) (PROV 9:8) (Prov 9:7)

        • Kenneth Gray on February 22, 2020 at 3:26 pm

          I am not scoffing anything. I’m just trying to understand why Mr. Burrell. I’m constantly being told what God wants and that God’s will is unknowable. If God’s will is unknowable how can anyone say what God wants. It seems to be a contradiction. I’m trying to figure out how two opposing statements can be true at the same time. As far as prayers go, I’m trying to discern why God seems to be ignoring my prayers. I’m sorry if you can’t understand that from the perspective of someone who has never had a prayer answered, prayer apparently doesn’t work. I would love to be able to say that prayer works. But I’ve not seen any evidence that would prove that prayers work. I see lots of testimonies about God actually answering people’s prayers, how I long for that. Personally I think that an answered prayer would go a long way to giving me some hope. I’m not trying to tear down God, I’m lost and God is silent. It’s tough when God is the only one you can turn to and God appears to be absent. God Bless You

  10. Wanda Leroy on September 7, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    Most of the ‘phrases’ mentioned above that people say are used to impress others of their Christianity or some level they think that they have achieved. God help us. Pride plays way too much in our conversations when speaking about our faith. People look for approval or some level of position.. when that is not what it is about. Prayer is a ‘meeting’ place, and God is sovereign.

  11. Alove on August 9, 2019 at 11:11 am

    The “God told me…” thing gets out of hand so quickly. Someone claimed that God told them who I would marry. I held onto that for a year and watched him marry someone else. I did pray about it while I waited, but the end result proved this person was false. I definitely want to be more cautious of that in the future.

    However, I can think of one situation that was a “God told me” moment that sounded crazy. I was working a job that was very physically demanding. The pay was below minimum wage with horrible tips. I could hardly walk by the end of the day and the hours were long. I prayed about it consistently for a while. I was getting advice from coworkers telling me to quit, because our long hours didn’t give me or others who decided to quit much time to interview for other jobs. One day I came to work and had decided to quit that week. Then I heard God speak so clearly in my spirit telling me not to quit or look for a job. I was to stay where I was for a little longer. A peace came over me and I was confident that I heard him even though it didn’t makes sense. How could I find another job if I don’t look? About two weeks later someone came into my job who worked in Human Resources at a news station. She said they needed a new administrative assistant. She gave me her email and said to send her my resume in two weeks after her vacation was over. After two weeks I sent it, she got me an interview, and by that Friday I was told I had the job. On Monday I turned in a letter or resignation to my current job and started my new one that day! We should not approach hearing the voice of God with doubt and skepticism. We should pray for discernment because when God does speak we don’t want to miss it.

  12. Nope on July 19, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    Nope. If praying for life, health, healing isn’t good enough for God, who supposedly loves us, then no. I’m fighting for my life here. How can a loving Father not support that? Don’t tell me things will get better. This has been a life long waiting to die because I can’t do anything, life at 55 years enduring it. No. No love, no drawing near, no compassion, no help.

    • M Burrell on February 22, 2020 at 2:48 pm

      You should the book of Job. I ask you who have you supported who have you waited on who have you helped who have you shown love to. Who gave you the breath and strength to post this. What are you using to fight for your life you should bottle it and sell it if it is working for you.

      • Kenneth Gray on February 22, 2020 at 3:43 pm

        I will pray for you Mr. Burrell, but reading your posts give me the impression that you are arrogant in your faith. This post to Nope just shows a lack of compassion. I don’t know what your life is like but to people like me that are struggling, don’t appreciate your inconsiderate comments. Please, if you aren’t adding helpful advice, don’t comment.

  13. JIMMY ZEAL on April 19, 2019 at 5:52 am


    • fessdo on May 12, 2019 at 10:44 pm

      You are so right and I wished I had found it out years ago. When I read Matthew 6:5 “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray”,,,, I saw that I had wasted 50+yrs rattling on, wasting time, and accomplishing nothing. If people would be honest they would say pray is never an answer to getting anything done.
      There was a man who was a great devotee. He was in extreme poverty and decided to commit suicide one day, before that he wanted to have ago at god and goes to the temple he regularly prays.
      After swearing on God how he was frustrated because despite many prayers nothing materialized for him and how god let him down, suddenly god appeared in front of him.
      And somehow the god was convinced by his devotee that he deserves a boon. When the god asked what boon will the devotee seek, our devotee asked for a first prize in a lottery. God granted him the wish and disappeared.
      The guy couldn’t believe the luck and was restless as the result would take another month to be made public. He started offering more prayers and did lots of offers in the name of god with borrowed money as a gratitude.
      The result day came, our guy buys the paper opens the result page ta da, nothing for him. His photo was not there for the grant prize. Then he reminded to himself he has forgotten to buy the LOTTERY TICKET.
      Those who spend lot of time on prayers tend to forget that they have to actually do something on the issue. People want believe in the magic of god, but conveniently forget that for the magic to work their should be some logic involved too.

  14. Brett W. on April 18, 2019 at 11:37 am

    Thank you for this! I was rabidly agreeing with the first 2 so happy that someone verbalized them finally and then I got to number 3. Oops. I do that one all the time. I am planting a church and it is easy to think that things need to be “working” for God to really be present. Everything you said there really helped me as I plan out my day.

  15. Lem on April 18, 2019 at 11:29 am

    Thanks for your article. I agree with it in some ways and not so much in others. I come from a charismatic background. I’ve seen demons cast out tumors fall off depression leave. I’ve seen limbs grow back the blind see and the deaf hear again. There is power in prayer and it works!
    I know this has been abused in the past and hence the fences and defences of my fellow brothers and sisters in this post.
    However I do believe there is prayer and then there is PRAYER!!!
    I don’t feel I need to explain this to a Christian.
    I know from some of my friends that they have almost given up asking for a miracle because it has been wiped out from conservative denominations. It’s almost like this is my lot… my fate….
    But there are.many times where sickness depression and oppression are an attack of the enemy but yet we say it’s gods will and give me strength to endure and so on… we do not take the authority given to us to stand up to it.
    We have removed the atmosphere of faith for asking for healing because we scared that if it does not happen what do we do then?

    • Kristi on June 14, 2019 at 11:15 am


    • Lisa on January 17, 2020 at 11:32 am

      Really? You’ve seen limbs grow back
      ? No you haven’t.

  16. Joshua Cole on April 18, 2019 at 9:38 am

    Thank you so much for this post. It has given me words for much of what I’ve learned to be true. I grew up in church–a charismatic church at that. I’ve heard and seen all of these things. I don’t normally post because of the busyness of my life, but I had to say thank you for this honest content today. I’ll be watching my words more closely because I want the world to hear something that they can connect to and something that will give a reliable understanding of the way faith works.

  17. John Glowacki on April 18, 2019 at 6:57 am

    Always love finding a new post in my inbox! Thanks Carey!
    I love to share these at our church staff meetings. Is there a printer friendly version of the blog posts?

  18. Micah Eldridge on April 17, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    Hey Carey,

    Love your stuff. You’re a great observer of culture and always have a fair, humble take on things. One thing I’d add to the list of “things to stop saying” (or things we need to speak more carefully about) is “how to grow your church.”

    I love church growth, I believe in church growth…but in a culture of consumerism and a real skepticism around institution, language around church (numerical) growth often leads to further distrust or misunderstood intentions (both for the listeners and the leaders). I think language around church “health” and “maturity” are better suited for our culture and fit better into the Biblical/NT instruction around church leadership.

    All that to say, I love your insights on church growth, just think we have to talk about it carefully along with the three you listed above. Thanks for all you do!

  19. Don Garberg on April 17, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    Great article. I have been rebelling against “Christian-ese” and statements like these for decades. It is off-putting to the unchurched, repulsive to the dechurched, and only makes Christ followers sound like they belong to some secret society or cult. They are confusing and erroneous at best.

    I appreciate your work Carey, thanks!

  20. Justin on April 17, 2019 at 9:31 am

    I really liked what you had to say here, we Christians can say some weird stuff.

    Do you have suggestions for what to say instead for points 1 & 3? In point 2 you stated, “Say something like, “‘Based on what I know from scripture, I believe this is the best/boldest/wisest course of action.'” and I think that’s really helpful to have a replacement phrase. I’d love to know if you had a succinct thought or phrase for the other points instead of “Prayer works” and “I could really feel God’s presence”.

    Just off the cuff here I’d think of phrases like, “God moves when we pray, but not always in the ways we’d think” and “Sometimes I feel emotionally connected to God’s presence, like just then, but I know He is always present with me.”

    Would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for another great article!

    • Jill on April 17, 2019 at 12:36 pm

      I second this! ☝🏼☝🏼☝🏼

  21. Adam Desmond on April 17, 2019 at 9:00 am

    The phrase that irritates me is, “I believe in the power of prayer.” To me, that’s like saying you believe in the power that an extension cord provides. It might be semantics, but if your extension cord isn’t plugged in, it has no power. Praying to the Universe does nothing. Prayer is merely a conduit.

    And I agree that “God told me to” is overused, but mostly because I don’t believe most people really understand prayer and how to listen to God. They don’t ask other Godly people in their lives to confirm what they believe they’ve heard from God. Really, the way most people pray is more akin to the prosperity gospel heresy of “name it and claim it.” Communication with God is hard work and requires practice and patience.

  22. Christopher Sweet on April 17, 2019 at 8:52 am

    Excellent thoughts. Against my better judgment, I skirted in the edge of the “prayer works” statement this week. I appreciate the reminder/affirmation.

  23. Daniel Shepherd on April 17, 2019 at 7:16 am

    Fair points, good article.
    Some others to avoid:
    When praying for people: “don’t look left or right”, or “God wants to take you to the next level”.
    The first time thrse phrases were used, they may have meant something. Perhaps. But they are used as cliches, almost devoid of meaning. Don’t look left or right is maybe meant to mean “keep your eyes on God.” But could be said so much more plainly. To me the phrase focuses strongly/soley on individualistic faith, perhaps ignoring the wisdom, strategy, connections and support that perhaps should be “on their left and right”.

    “God wants to take you (or your job/ministry/family) to the next level” (or step it up a gear, or into the next season) Perhaps this is seen as a default blessing to pray. But more likely God sometimes wants to keep us at the same “level” for a time to grow, consolidate, mature, bear fruit, or even rest, etc. Ecclesiastes tells us there are times for everything. Surely there are even times to “take it back a level,” or “down a gear.”
    I have had people tell me that them hearing it too often it felt like an insult to them, implying stagnation, condemning, not being good enough, or that they needed to “change” something.

  24. Bob Klahn on February 19, 2019 at 3:59 am

    Jesus told us to feed the hungry, house the homeless, etc.

    Clearly and simply, no doubt about it.

  25. Kat Zie on September 11, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    Thanks for your article… Found it encouraging. How to deal properly with the hurt, anger, frustration of unanswered prayer is another good topic…..And evil and the prolonged abuse, torture and mistreatment of people…I know the Lord is trustworthy, that He loves people and He hates evil…what part is human responsiblity to stop? (Who will stand up for me against the evil doer? Psalms) David and his men were “wall” for the people; they stopped evil. Like Nehemiah and the wall built about the city and strategities used to win against a persiistent and cruel enemy.
    Prayer is a good work, a “job assignment” from the LORD for people, interesting… He lets us grapple wth this and bring our prayers and supplicatios to Him… Prayer Works, Jobs…
    Sept …is it 16 to 22, feed my starving children needs contibutions and packers… Pack in the park, US bank stadium? Check it out and come and help feed some people…

  26. Paul Mahy on August 8, 2018 at 7:17 am

    Fucking bullshit.

    • Kat Zie on September 11, 2018 at 3:55 pm

      Hi Paul M…. Appreciate the words… Would like to hear your views and concerns

  27. Jacob Huffman on August 28, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Another thing that the church should stop saying is this: “God was really in that place today.” That is both true and misleading. I mean, how many times has God been in a service and people sat there like a knot on a log and didn’t say a word to God, didn’t praise or worship God or even prayed a word to Him. Granted, God was in that place, however, some people weren’t really receptive to His presence, His voice, or all the more worse yet, His direction.

    What should we say instead? “God was really in me today.” It may sound arrogant at first. But, as long as you walk in God’s direction and obedience (even in the midst of people who don’t), God will continue the good work He has begun in you. Some of us need to go back to that last act of obedience and not let anything hinder us from obeying God.

    That being said, thanks for sharing. “Prayer works” does seem like code for “I made God an errand boy.” Prayer is preparing us to do God’s will, not preparing God to do ours. The reality is that we may never get one friend, one cent or one thing that we want. God is never enough for us anymore . . . yet, He should be.

    Also, God will not tell you anything that He didn’t first tell you in His Word, else that would be false counseling and God is introduced in the Bible as a Wonderful Counselor. So number two is most definitely a scapegoat. Plus, it’s simple logic. How many times should somebody tell you to do something?

    And no, it is not always in a feeling. In fact, the Bible often teaches us to go against feelings and go by faith. You may feel nervous or uncomfortable about something, but with the faith that Peter and Paul had, you can overcome those feelings and step out in faith and do what God wants you to do.

    I could preach awhile here . . . but, I’ll stop. Again, thanks for sharing.

  28. Dionne White on July 8, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    This was a great article. I wish Christians would stop saying “It’s all about Love”.
    Actually it’s all about Truth and Love. Jesus came to be a peacemaker, he came to bring a sword, and not to be a peace keeper.
    Truth and Love. Truth IN Love!
    Thanks Carey for you great insight. Very refreshing!

  29. daveherring on September 28, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    “Nowhere did God promise that the Holy Spirit is a feeling or an emotion.” Except those silly emotions ‘love, joy, peace…’

    • Katie Peken on April 17, 2019 at 9:16 am

      Hi Dave H – I take it you are saying that the Holy Spirit IS emotions? But love, God style, is an action – like laying down your life for your friends; joy is a decision – otherwise how can we obey the admonition to ‘rejoice in the Lord always’, and peace requires the hardest of work – like when Jesus died for us, while we were still his enemies. Galatians 5 says that love, joy and peace, along with patience, kindness and the rest are products of living in step with the Spirit, rather than feelings.

      I agree with you, Carey, that Christians should stop saying ‘Prayer works’, and I agree with the reasons you give, but I want to add another reason: usually I hear that phrase when a well-meaning Christian tells an unchurched person with a problem that prayer really works. And they miss out the part about prayer being effective because of who we are praying to. Recently someone thanked me for praying for her mum because, she said, her mum took all our prayers and used them to heal herself. So perhaps I’d rather say, “Why don’t we talk to Jesus about that – he is immensely powerful, and he promises to hear us. I don’t know what his answer will be, because he’s God and he’s so much wiser than me; but I know for sure that he is listening, he loves us, and he is good.”

      • Jill on April 17, 2019 at 12:42 pm

        Ohhh, man. Thank you for your insight on praying with the individual for her mom. I’ve only recently come across that kind of response from someone with a universalist approach to faith (I guess that’s what it is… please correct me if I’m wrong!), and I wasn’t prepared to respond with anything that would gently point them back to Jesus.

  30. Marlene Jiannino Daley on September 28, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    I have found myself saying, “I am, you are, they are, we are blessed” far to many times. I also feel uncomfortable when people say that God ld them this or that. I be.ieve that God is all around us and my prayers are ususally for His glory for all that he has made. I am humbled by all that I have been given in my life & I do not have great expectations that all of my prayers will be answered. If he anwsered all prayers there would be no pain in the world.

  31. Matthew Brown on August 8, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    Great article. Especially on prayer dude and the presence of God.

  32. Karen Edenhofer on May 18, 2016 at 9:13 am

    I adored this article and appreciate the wording so much! As someone not originally from Christian culture, I struggle SO much to understand the “blessed” phrase (ugh) and the comment about prayer working in favorable times (what about the other child who wasn’t spared from cancer-was their prayer broken in some way?).

    Also, this is incredibly picky, but your bio really deterred me from reading more of your work. It says you interview today’s “best” leaders. But all I can think of is the value assigned to the word “best” like some of the “best” homes, schools, neighborhoods, people, etc. I’m positive that this “best” is polar to what Jesus calls us to be. Maybe you mean “most-influential leaders of today’s main-stream Christian culture”?

  33. Jeanne Stevens Kohn on May 17, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    You asked what sorts of other things we wish Christians (or people in general) would stop saying. One of mine is “I am so proud of my_____”(son, daughter, wife, friend) when they do something that people tend to think of as good. This seems like a good thing to say but carries with it difficulty on the other end. What do we say when they DON’T manage those great things? Or even perhaps do things that give us pain? Do we then say “I am so ashamed of my______”? I would prefer to hear “I am so delighted with________” And then, also, those actions no longer reflect back on us but are fully gifts from the Father of lights….

  34. Nancy McManus on May 16, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    Why do you call people who don’t go to church unchurched. The reality is that many of whom you are calling this, did in fact go to church at some point in their life, and made a decision to leave the church. Not because they don’t believe in a higher power, but because they believe in spirituality not the formal religion that is associated with the physical building called a church. I do agree with your opening statement regarding why people stay away from Christianity. Your points about what not to say as Christians were well written and I agree with your reasoning behind each of them.

  35. Zachary Verbracken on May 16, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Thanks Carey for your transparency and authenticity. You’re building bridges and helping us to become more self-aware and better navigate conversations with unchurched people who are skeptical because of phrases like the ones mentioned.

    Appreciate you and your wisdom!

  36. Brett Heintzman on May 16, 2016 at 8:46 am

    I’m afraid I must take a contrary opinion. I hear you regarding the reasoning, but the phrases are not the issue.
    Regarding #1… Prayer indeed works. I can point to the day and hour that God confronted me with this statement: “You are a man who ‘prays’, but not a ‘man of prayer.’ I was completely challenged, stung, convicted and changed. Prayer is the primary practice of our church and I fear that most church do most of their ministry out of their own strength and ideas instead of the result of actual praying, … which leads to my disagreement with #2…
    Regarding #2 … The day I was confronted by God, “God said…” Again, I know that you are speaking of people who attempt to validate their own misguided thoughts by application of the phrase “God said…” but I will not stop saying it. God speaks. If we do not serve a God who still speaks then what do we have? I hang on the voice of my Good Shepherd who told me that I would know His voice. Which leads to my disagreement with #3…
    Regarding #3 … Both prayer and voice = palpable presence of God. The Glory of God is equivalent to “weight.” Weight is something felt, not explained. You don’t know what the word ‘weight’ means until you’ve experienced it. God’s presence is real and I will not stop speaking about His presence.
    Respectfully disagreeing.
    Brett Heintzman
    Pastor, Jamestown Free Methodist Church
    Jamestown, NY

    • RWilliams on May 16, 2016 at 1:24 pm

      On your issue with #1 I’m concerned you didn’t read the article but just the points. He clarifies exactly what he means underneath the point.

      On 2 & 3… We have to have a foundation for truth which is clearly the Word of God. Giving people license to act upon their own interpretations of their feelings or emotions is, to me, quite dangerous. How many times have we seen stories on the news where “God told” someone to commit a violent act. Also, Carey answered your issues quite clearly.

      “For the record, I believe there are times when God does speak to
      people today. But let’s be realistic. What made me put this phrase on
      the list is the number of times I have heard the phrase used to describe
      a decision that is:

      Selfishly motivated (come on, admit it … you’re justifying your impulses).

      Contrary to scripture (the scriptures pretty clearly suggest that what you’re doing is sinful … or at least isn’t wise).

      Designed to shut down debate (does anyone really think they can win a “God told me” debate?).”

    • Roger M. Cole on September 28, 2016 at 11:24 am

      I agree with you, Brett. I found this post very cynical.

    • Joan Hollingshead on November 5, 2016 at 3:47 pm


    • R. Furia on May 16, 2018 at 12:44 pm


  37. pneumastar on May 14, 2016 at 1:15 am


    I agree with you about “prayer works” it’s bugged me for years…but I have to take issue with your perspectives that merely present the God of the Universe as a doctrinal entity, not a person (or, at least, I received what you wrote that way), a Person that we are made in the image of…we are “like” Him. When you said, “Do things happen supernaturally when we pray? Well, yes they do,” you should have stopped there. If we are connecting people with a God that has to be figured out or understood, we are misleading them. He is the One that dispenses, “peace that passes understanding” and our introduction to him must include embracing the mysteries that are “part and parcel” of His Personhood. Yes, there is much we understand and connect with but to attempt to grasp, with our minds, the ways of the person of God is to eat again from a tree of knowledge of good and evil.

    To not say that “God told me” merely saves you from looking foolish, a trait I find, scripturally to be a trait of believers. The sheep KNOW the shepherd’s voice. Take a risk, BELIEVE – it causes faith in others. It also brings on the foolishness of Christ, an essence most “Christians” choose to avoid. As long as scripture repeats it or parallels it, I wouldn’t discourage a believer…even if they’re wrong, it’s a point of maturity not heresy.

    “Feeling” God’s presence…this takes faith also. Maybe “sensing” is a better word but to say that the Creator doesn’t connect with our senses is nothing but a gnostic position. We are whole people, body (including our senses), soul and spirit. God touches ALL of us. God is not an emotion, but he IS a person and when someone who we are familiar with enters the room (and we have discernment) we “feel” their presence, His too. I agree, God is not “just” present when we “feel” him but we surely can sense Him. Again, saying this makes us look kinda stupid but it’s good for the humility factor. There’s something about the Father, he likes the ones that are not ashamed.

    Let’s open our hearts to stuff we don’t “get,” stuff that doesn’t make sense, stuff that’s not wrong but makes us feel uncomfortable. He loves us and invites us to embrace the mystery of Him…a mystery that I, for way too long, chose to either explain, cover-up or ignore but is now the whole of how I receive His daily interaction with me.


    • Kiesha J. on July 12, 2018 at 11:51 am

      Well said, THANK YOU!!

      • Kiesha J. on July 12, 2018 at 11:58 am

        @pneumastar, thank you for your post. I was trying to reply to your comment but unfortunately did it incorrectly. Anyways, well said and I agree with your perspective completely. Thank you for that clarification and elaboration on things Christians say and why that may be so.

    • Lem on April 18, 2019 at 11:31 am

      Awesome. Agree with you

    • Kristi on June 14, 2019 at 11:22 am

      Absolutely, pneumastar!

  38. Devin Marlowe on May 13, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    I kinda wanna tweet this article and say “Preach it!” But I’m guessing that’s something else Christians should stop saying… 😉 FANTASTIC post.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on May 15, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      Thanks so much Devin! So great to meet you a few weeks ago.

      • Devin Marlowe on May 16, 2016 at 2:26 pm

        Was great to meet you too. Thanks for all you do. Hope you have enjoyed your time in Australia.

  39. YoungChurchLeaders on May 13, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Wow! Too much I want to say in the comment section. (All good things though). So let me just say… Keep writing!

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