Maxie Dunnam Quote on Prayer

Recently, I was sharing with a group of church people about the need for corporate prayer, especially intercession, when the following quote came to mind:

What if there are some things that God either will not do or cannot do until and unless we pray?

Maxie Dunnam, former president of Asbury Theological Seminary, used to ask that question every so often in chapel or in small group conversations. And often, in his usual Maxie-style, he would quickly add, “Let me say that again.” And he would repeat the question, just to make sure you heard it.

The first time I heard him say it, it didn’t mean that much to me. However, the longer I’ve lived with it, the more meaningful it has become.

God has invited us to participate in His work here on earth. Though He could do it without us, He has chosen not to. He wants our help. He longs for our participation.

Prayer is a part of that. Consider: What if there really are some things that God has decided not to do until we ask Him for them?

That’s an incredible thought. God’s waiting on you and me to ask for certain things in prayer before He will do them. He wants to do it. He wants to bless. He wants to heal. He wants to redeem. But, He is waiting on you and me to pray for it. What if we never ask? What if we never pray for it?

Perhaps that’s part of why the church is the way it is today. We do not have because we do not ask. (cf. James 4:2-3)


5 responses to “Maxie Dunnam Quote on Prayer

  • Michael Mather

    I think it’s a good question…but I would come down in a much different place. I think God has acted and God just wants us to enjoy it. I don’t think that God “needs” for us to do anything. Would God like us to do something? I think so. And that thing would be to delight in the creation as it has been given unto us. I think it becomes fairly dangerous when we begin to think that we can make God do something (even if God is the one who decided the rules of the game). I pray – constantly, and I hope, devoutly – so that I can see God’s power and presence in my life and in the life of the world around me. Would I like God to do some things that I have in mind? You bet. Am I willing to submit myself to the idea that God is God and I’m not. Lord, I try. I try.

  • Craig L. Adams

    Michael Mather’s response uses theology to undermine the concepts of both both intercessory and petitionary prayer. Since the primary models for prayer in the Scriptures are petitionary and intercessory, his theological constructs about God cannot be correct. Maxie Dunnam is right. This is Calvinistic or quasi-Calvinistic confusion. Understandable.

  • Craig L. Adams

    Hey Lauren (having no other way of reaching you, I post this request here) could I have permission to re-post this as a “guest blogger” post on my website/blog? I would (of course) give you credit and link back.

  • Craig L. Adams

    Done. It’s here:

    My interest in this subject is in: how the practice of intercessory prayer informs our theology. This practice (praying for other people’s well-being) is certainly endorsed by both Scripture and long-standing Christian tradition. Yet, when people first start to seriously reflect on it the immediately raise theological / philosophical objections. I’ve noticed this in local churches when I have led a study of The Workbook of Living Prayer. So, when Christian practice conflicts with (one’s formerly presumed) theology do we adjust our practice or call our theology into question? For me (at least) that is an easy one: we call our theology into question and continue to use Scripture as a model and guide in our praying.

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