The starting point for prophetic prayer is leaning into God’s preferred future for the Universe, putting our weight behind God’s will (as we best understand it, given our limitations). An operational prayer seeks help in the midst of our life situations, such as “Lord, help me get through this.”
I’ve always wondered how prayer works operationally. How does our prayer impact the Universe? In antiquity, a shaman or witch doctor would invoke the name of the right god for results, such as asking the rain god for rain, or the warrior god for military victory.
So, when Moses heard God’s call to liberate the Israelites, he asked a normal question, “What’s your name?” The mysterious answer is a foundation of monotheism, something like: “I am the nameless one.” “I am beyond names.” “I am not an object.” “I am known by my action in your history.”
Ideally, prophetic prayer and operational prayer become one. God’s preferred future becomes the future we seek. Our deepest yearning (our true prayer) is expressed in the motives, attitudes and actions underneath our routine, seemingly mundane (but inherently profound) daily lives.