The majority of things said concerning prayer are (I think) a kind of non-specific, generalized, or (worse!) "spiritual" reflection. It seems to me that nothing-in-particular is asserted, whereas everything-in-general...is true? Prayer then; is a function of "the one", but by the time we get to "the many"...nothing-in-particular governs? How weird is that?
We infer then that couched inside prayer-info would be a plea for "one-ness in the body", or more simply, "unity"? And without me becoming cartoonish and way-overstating things, the whip-lash or the anti-function we could predict here, would be a sort of ME-centered re-arrangement and re-prioritization of INNER-values? I mean here; that since "A", (which is "unity") ain't flying, how's about "B" (it's "opposite"), my ME-centered sense of inner peace?...eh? And we just hope that this isn't wildly off-track as a description of what we view prayer to be.
The real brief spin then is, the "transformation of culture" is (now) viewed to be, we-individually being transformed, such that en-masse; a bunch of transforming individuals CAN "cause" a culture shift? And (oddly) my ideas (in this paper) have nearly nothing to do with this, in that there remains here, NO particulars! Sunshine, unicorns, and good feelings just ain't cutting the mustard.
In our milieu, any-thing is okay, any crutch works, as-long as it's (generally speaking) a "spiritual" thing? Does chanting work for you? How about incense? Would crystal power be okay? And so, why not tarot cards, palm reading and past-lives? Pretty soon; remote viewing, divination, and "spirit guides" are included? And whatever prayer proves to be; it CANNOT be a matter of receiving information from "ascended masters"! I...(if nobody else) say so.
So, I'm saying three things pop-up on my brain-screen, in the discussion of prayer:
1. Vision - seeing what shall be...
2. Desire - fleeing toward that future...
3. Shielding - maintaining that "directional" priority, when the "vision" fails, and the heart retreats. the verb "to persevere" comes to mind...
In brief then; I am hereby asserting that prayer-qua-praying is to re-arrange Us, more so than it is to re-arrange the world. We keep thinking that the pray-ING, (if it "works"), is supposed to be a kind of winning lottery theory, a get-rich quick (but of the "holy" variety) a kind of by-passing of the rules, laws, and reality of things...
So then, all that out of the way, I am affirming that prayer (in itself) is a kingdom-centered, Christ-honoring path, such that we (in particular) learn to focus or direct our energy TOWARD or "with" His...ON PURPOSE. Can prayer be MORE than that? Sure, why not? But for it to be LESS than that, leaves us in the swamp we've already criticized.
Point one, "Vision" (already noted) has (to me) been very difficult to wrap my brain-around. How many times in the past 25 years have you heard someone waxing eloquent about the "need" for "vision"? And what PRECISELY are they talking about? Beats me! There doesn't appear to be a particular, other than one person's wish-list for some uber-utopia...(or something) which I'm "supposed to embrace"? Huh? Forget that junk.
Find...Biblical reality-future. "Surely, the Judge of earth shall do right", or "As waters cover the sea, so the knowledge of God shall cover earth", or what of "Maranatha, even so; come Lord Jesus!". I mean, pick one! Find that vision of future-history, and "envision" it! There's at least a hundred specifics of what shall-be, in the Bible. Find one! Mine is (for today's prayer), "He shall trample out the vintage of the winepress of the wrath of God-Almighty"...or to that effect at least! That is; the future-history, is an entirely lop-sided, one-legged affair, a total wipe-out of His foes. Hey! I like that! I'm on page...
Point two, "Desire" (also noted) means that in prayer, we re-direct our (my) personal ambitions to line-up under, to run toward, to embrace-gladly the coming reality. we "see" the (coming) real, and we say "yes" to it! This is a kind of putting-off, and putting-on. We shed the old, and wear the new. This is where all that stuff about me becoming rich and powerful DIES, and where gathering-in as many as possible prior to that wipe-out, arises as a new "motive"...in me.
Point three, "Shielding" (final of the 3 mentioned) is (I think) the "hardest", or the least-best understood. Anyone can "go on" a diet. Who can stay "on it"? Quitting smoking is easy... STAYING smoke free is "nearly impossible" (for us mere humans).
In prayer, we "see" the next-thing coming, and re-arrange our hearts so to "grasp" it, and "release" what we were previously holding to. But, how do we STAY oriented in this "pose", or stay pointed in this "direction"?
Kingdom oriented prayer then, had better discuss the problem area of "sanctification", or what has thus far been said, only causes a whip-lash, an anti-function which hardens us against further prayer! In brief; we fail to pray, BECAUSE we've "tried it"!
So, for example; if my prayer is "seeing" the coming overthrow of all earthly opposition, then the "desire" morphs MY life into a "new-wanting" to participate in gathering the refugees and survivors out of it. We (in-fact) flee-wrath, so to shelter under Christ. So far, so good, but the perseverance of this motif is where we, in serial fashion, collapse. All that stuff about "paying the bills" and "being realistic", and the "lowering of our sights", bends us BACK into a kind of self-ist prioritization.
How to escape? And "of", or "in" ourselves (alone), there is no answer. I think then, that at minimum, it HAS to be a Christian answer! That is; there is nothing in the above that a "good Mormon", or a "good Jew" (or Muslim?) could not find a way to endorse. Where is the offense of the Gospel...in prayer?
Try listening to yourself, when you say things like " I just cannot forgive that!". What if you are right? Why then are we assuming that Christ-in-you (the hope of glory) "is" Christianity...EXCEPT when we have to do the hardest thing in the world, and forgive those closest to us? Then the load shifting to me-alone doing "the impossible" causes us to retreat! It is possible... that it IS impossible...to forgive. But that would be me-alone, which defeats the whole premise of Christ-in-me! Speak true things, at least to yourself...
Oddly then,"perseverance" is unto-death. Our desires, our goals, our priorities, all go-with us, into the soil. The way of prayer IS, the way of the Cross...pssst, this is where you come in...and die.
What you thought right, what you considered real, or important, or central... it all slams into the ground WITH you, on the day you die. So; back to "vision" then, the coming-reality IS, we all die... and (in Christ) stand-up again, at His call.
"Shielding" means NOT shielding your heart, it means going on, AFTER it is broken, continuing on AFTER all hope-human is extinguished. "Shielding" is Him shielding-us...from Him! The certainty of our continuance... is rooted in Him swearing-oath to drag our sorry butts in...before "that great and terrible day"!
Prayer CAN mean more than this, but I don't see how it could mean much less. We pray, so that we BECOME more alive, awake, and functional in the REAL world. The problem area is our flights of fantasy.
We are those-changing, it is not so much, the "out-there" (the world). It remains He-Who-Is, who indeed is transforming us! We come to AGREE...with our Maker...IN prayer!
THAT is the new-thing in earth. Him, (in Person) In us, and us-in-Him! It is the new-normal.