February 7, 2020Interviews

One-on-One with Craig Groeschel on ‘Dangerous Prayers’

I think there are many Christians who know they should pray, who want to have great faith when they pray, but often don’t.
One-on-One with Craig Groeschel on ‘Dangerous Prayers’
Image: Photo from Craig Groeschel

Ed: Talk to me about your latest book and what makes it so significant.

Craig: I’m incredibly passionate about this book because it’s really a reflection of the personal struggles I’ve had with my prayer life. I think there are many Christians who know they should pray, who want to have great faith when they pray, but often don’t.

We get easily distracted or we end up praying really safe, boring prayers, like, “God, bless my food and keep me safe today.” This book is born out of my own desire for more in my prayer life. Hopefully, I can help give people a pathway to fall more intimately in love with God by not praying safe, docile prayers, but instead having more of a daring, radical faith to believe in a God who says all things are possible through him.

Ed: You mentioned that as Christians we can often get stuck in a rut of praying safe prayers. Would you say that in reality no prayer should be safe?

Craig: I think prayer is inherently dangerous because we’re surrendering and submitting our desires to God. I wouldn’t ever say don’t pray for the safety of your kids. I think any loving parent would want their kids to be safe. I don’t think I’d ever say don’t pray that you have a good day, because I hope you do have a great day.

But if our prayers are only for parking spots and blessing food, we’re almost insulting our God who can do so much more.

When I look at some of the prayers in scripture, they’re much more dangerous. In one of the prayers we talk about in the Old Testament, David asked God and gave God permission to search him. That’s a dangerous prayer: search me God.

Then he prayed, “See if there is any offensive way in me.” In other words, if there is any part of me that is impure, unclean, unrighteous, displeasing to you, God, I give you permission to show it to me.

That’s not a prayer I was taught to pray growing up in Sunday School. That’s a dangerous prayer. That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. “God, I give you permission, in fact, I invite you to do something more in me, to search my heart. I’ll bare my soul before you.” When I started praying that particular prayer, God started showing me more impurities in my own soul that He would help cleanse through that dangerous prayer.

Ed: Why do you think it’s so difficult for us to want to pray dangerous prayers?

Craig: I think ultimately what we want is for God to do what we want, and that’s why our prayers are safe: “God, bless me, protect me, help my kids grow up fine, help me win the lottery.”

Whatever it is, our safe prayers are asking God to do things that benefit me. These prayers aren’t saying, “God, you’re here to serve me.” They’re saying, “God, I’m here to serve you.”

Jesus didn’t call us to be safe. He didn’t call us to be comfortable. He didn’t call us to be cozy. He called us to deny ourselves and follow him. That’s a dangerous calling. “Search me, show me my sin.” That’s dangerous.

“Break me, God, of myself, my own self-sufficiency.” That’s dangerous. “Send me, God, anywhere. Interrupt me and my answer is yes.” That’s an incredibly dangerous prayer.

And I believe on the other side of that is real intimacy, real faith, and ultimately, real effectiveness and fruitfulness for God.

Ed: Why do you think this book is needed today?

Craig: Many people look at my life and think that because I have a good marriage, a good wife, good kids, and I’m leading a good church that I must be madly and passionately in love with Jesus.

But truthfully, there have been many times where I’m distracted and living for things that don’t matter. If I can get to that place in this environment where I’m a pastor and surrounded by the things of God every day, think about the mom who is raising three kids, working two jobs. Or the dad who is trying his best to pay the bills, or the student who is facing all kinds of temptation.

If it’s really, really difficult for me, I’m assuming it’s really, really difficult for a lot of people.

I wrote this book with a raw, gut-level passion and knowing that I wanted this and needed this. I wasn’t even sure I could translate my thoughts into words, but I wanted to do everything I could to pour my heart out about my brokenness, my selfishness, my small prayers, my faithlessness, my dead prayers, the times when I don’t pray, the times I don’t even know if prayer works, the times when I just want to give up.

I wanted to open up my heart and put words on the page that inspire people to pursue a real, raw faith with God. I wouldn’t say I have it all the time, but when I have it, the fire is something I wouldn’t trade for anything.

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One-on-One with Craig Groeschel on ‘Dangerous Prayers’