To get us started, I’ve asked Craig three questions. Here are his answers. I look forward to your questions and the chance to hear from him this week!
1 - How has your own prayer life changed from writing and publishing Fearless Prayer?
Craig Hazen: Before writing the book, I had been “practicing” this teaching for several years. So the book is really a report of my experience praying with special focus on fruit bearing activities.
The biggest change in my prayer life has been that I am on a constant hunt for potential fruit bearing things to pray about. I am more focused on what God might be doing around me and through me on a given day because it is so exciting to see his hand move. So if I have a need that can benefit the Kingdom or my own spiritual growth, I really look forward to praying about it. And then I have great expectation that he is going to act as quickly as he sees fit.
I still pray for things that I’m not sure are mission-critical requests. After all, he still hears those prayers and loves to respond to us according to his will. But now I have a special eye for the prayers that he has promised to answer. It’s very exciting.
2 – You mention Kojo’s point about how the 9-1-1 emergency service, as wonderful as it is, has conditioned Americans not to primarily rely on God to meet our needs and bear fruit for the kingdom of God.
What other cultural artifacts in the United States do you think are most pervasive and significant in building a culture of autonomy?
Craig Hazen: Oh my, the American spirit itself is set against our fast and focused reliance upon God. Rugged American individualism is no myth. It is part of the permanent furniture in our spiritual living room. As a people we tend not to welcome help and seem to have a built-in, subtle aversion to it. Add to this the “single-family home” and the single passenger car that seem to cocoon us from community and we have a pretty good formula for an autonomy that makes it difficult to rely on others, including God, for help in our lives.
And this does flow over into our prayer life. God really loves it when we are dependent on him.
How can we better diagnose and disentangle ourselves from the pervasive influence of naturalism?
Craig Hazen: Here is a seemingly easy answer to this: read the Scriptures more often. They are overflowing with a supernatural view of the world. But as you read about healings, and angels, and food appearing, and demons, and visions, etc., keep tabs on our own reactions to these accounts. Are you skeptical? Are you always on the hunt for a more naturalistic explanation to the supernatural event that is being presented to you? The best way to make adjustments to something as deeply ingrained as a worldview is to turn the Word of God loose on your mind and imagination. The Spirit of God will prevail.
Another helpful move is to travel to countries and encounter cultures that are not immersed in naturalism. Even in some of the most prosperous and technologically advanced countries (generally outside of North America and Europe) you will find a very different way of apprehending the unseen world—a way that most often takes it all much more seriously.
3. What would you say to people who have understood themselves to be abiding in Jesus, who want to bear fruit for the Lord, who have prayed earnestly for what they saw as God glorifying requests, and yet have been disappointed by the outcome of a certain situation?
Craig Hazen: Yes, refix your spiritual gaze on the things the Lord is doing in terms of answering fruit-bearing prayers in your life. There could be many each day as you serve him and it will encourage you in his love and amazing attentiveness. And then remember that Jesus’ promise in John 15:7 did not include a time frame. So although he moves quickly on many requests as we present them, some requests seem to languish. But rest assured he is on them. I take my cue from Jesus’ Parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8) and I keep pounding on the door. If I have every reason to believe that what I am offering is a fruit-bearing request, I really do keep after it. I’m always telling myself that based on his promise, “how could he not do this?!”