[Here’s some funny/sad material from Frank Schaeffer.
I can relate to these forms of what mistakenly
passes for “prayer”.]
[My parents] would launch into a prayer that was earnest and full of theological content. The excuse for the prayer, for instance the information that someone was ill, would get briefly mentioned. Then a lot of solid theology would also be mixed in. It was clear they were praying at the person with them, not to God.
The prayers were often a not-so-subtle vehicle for sermons. Praying out loud was also a way of advancing one’s case, the advantage being that no one dared interrupt you or argue back.
Prayer was [also] a way to remind God no to let his attention wander or forget that we, and we only, really understood what he was suppose to be doing. So we prayed at him, too. Reading between the lines [you get this:]
“Dear Heavenly Father, in Your Word You say that when two or three are gathered together, You will be in the midst of them. Well, we’re gathered here, so do what we’re telling You to do because we have You over a barred and can quote Your own book back at you! We claim Your promises, and because You can’t break any of those since You wrote it all in the Bible, You’ll do what we say, and You’ll do it NOW! Amen!”
Theologically speaking, we believed in an absolutely powerful omnipotent and sovereign Lord. But in practice, our God had to be begged and encouraged to carry out the simplest tasks.
We lacked the faith to pray effectively and make God do stuff. So we prayed for the faith to make God give us faith to make him do stuff. But getting enough faith was the biggest problem, so we prayed for the faith we needed to pray for faith. But how much faith did it take to pray to have enough faith to pray for faith? And if God knew you wanted faith, why didn’t he just give it to you?
It was like spending all your time calling directory information for phone numbers that you aren’t allowed to call unless you can guess the number right without asking.
— Frank Schaeffer [from “Crazy For God“]