Kenda Creasy Dean has a warning for parents of Christian teens — “Your child may be following a “mutant” form of Christianity…” In her book, “Almost Christian” Dean suggests that many American teenagers are embracing a faith that is little more than “moralistic therapeutic deism.” What’s that? It’s a watered-down faith that sees God as a “divine therapist” whose mission is to boost our self-esteem.” Dean describes this “imposter” faith as a significant reason teenagers abandon churches. She writes, “If this is the God they’re seeing in church, they are right to leave us in the dust. Churches don’t give them enough to be passionate about.” (Click here for more info on Dean’s insights.)
Let me take her thesis a step further. It isn’t just the teens who are embracing “moralistic therapeutic deism. In fact the teens are just embracing what we are already hugging.
So what does that have to do with prayer? Everything. Prayer and faith go hand in hand. Prayer is two way communication with God, when it comes to this personal communication it matters far less the words we say or when we say them and it matters far more how well we know the way with whom we are speaking. Faith is no different. Faith always has an object. We do not grow in faith by believing “harder.” We grow in faith by growing in our knowledge of the object of our faith.
For prayer to increase and faith to grow…we need to know God.
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, a key distinctive of that prayer was encouraging the disciples to call God…Father. Not Therapist. Not Smoother of Self-Esteem. Father.
A good father loves. A good father disciplines. A good father teachers. A good father sometimes says no. A good father always has time and loves to listen, but sometimes knows that the time of listening has ended and it’s time to speak. A good father loves. A good father deeply desires his children to grow and will sometimes allow them to go through the hardship that brings growth. A good father is willing to express his disappointment so that his children know his heart. A good father loves when we ask. A good father loves your heart more than your fancy words. A good father pays attention.
I am not always a good father, but God is always a good father. That thought should shape our prayers…and even more it should grow the passion of our prayers.
Take some time today and talk to your Father God.