When something bad happens in our culture, we often see a dependence on God — it's not real, it's fake, it's a 9-11 kind of faith.

What I'm saying is after that national tragedy we saw church buildings full one week, but they were empty the next … when a school or a community experiences even minor trauma someone will often say on social media to pray for that school or that city.

Maybe because I'm old, tired and sometimes too cynical I always wonder in a severe way, "What do they want me to pray about?" In this case, at the risk of sounding harsh, the implication was to pray for parts of a community to have its power restored.

Prayer is a privilege, praying is something I do and take very seriously, it's not a thought, prayer is a conversation that includes words that are selected especially for a specific thing that I am interceding for. Prayer is not generic. The Book of James tells us, "We do not have, because we do not ask (4:2)." So when I pray, I pray with precision.

Prayer is not about me getting what I want but about me seeking what God desires and then me getting off of my knees and taking the action God has asked of me. What I'm saying is I don't fall for the bait (I also don't say I'm praying on social media when I'm not).

I have a friend who is dying of cancer. I'm not praying for healing, God has already said, "No" to that. This woman knows Jesus and when the day comes that she leaves this life, she is going to spend a long time with Jesus. So, I'm praying she would press into that relationship and that her time here would be spent growing into that relationship. She's going to really, really meet Jesus soon and I want her to be ready. I pray she will be an example as she dies that she will shine her God-given light in her last days, be salt, influence those around her, be bold, have peace and strength.

I'm praying that when people see my friend, they see Jesus.

Some things seem to have more weight than others. "All politics is local" may be all prayer is too. They say the difference between major and minor surgery is major surgery is on me, and minor surgery is on you.

I'm just trying to move the needle a little bit.

I am a preacher; therefore if there is a need for public prayer in a social or civic setting, the preacher tends to get the nod (occupational hazard). It's hard because of what I have already said. I have a friend that I love a lot that lives in Lee County, my friend likes to remind me of something I said to him once, "There are no such things as safe prayers." This is a reference to the kinds of prayers people like to hear, the words flow, but they don't say a whole lot. In fact, I'm not sure they qualify as prayer.

Can I encourage to pray, but don't pray safe and don't just ask God to fix the electricity, it's okay to do that (Mark 11:24) but go beyond your passions (James 4:3) … He told me to tell you that.

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Ken Ansell currently serves as a pastor and local missionary in small, rural Texas community. He plays lots of tennis and fly fishes when he can. He can be reached at kenansell1@gmail.com.