I don’t think prayer is mechanical. That is, I don’t think if we “do” things right — as the right way, use the right formulae, etc — that we will get what we want. But James makes a mechanical point about prayer that we need to think about. Notice these words from James 4:1-3:
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle You
within you?want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot
have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you
do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Here’s a “mechanical” point that we need to consider when it comes to prayer: there is a profound interconnectivity between our relations with humans and our relation with God.
If our motives are to possess or dominate others, we can’t be connected
to God properly; if our desires and pleasures to have authority over
others shape our prayers, we are not connected to God properly. I don’t
know that is as simple as “get your motives right” or “get the right
pleasures”. Instead, I’m wondering today if it is not more “when you
are in proper relations with those in the messianic community then your
prayers will be heard because you are in tune with what God is doing in
It is far too easy for us to think about the Vertical and then to the Horizontal, as if being right with God makes us right with others. We might pursue this line of thinking today: the Horizontal shapes the Vertical as well.