So, this has been rolling around in my head for a while. It’s a little risky to put this into words, on the internet, for all to read.
BUT, I’m pretty positive I’m not the first or only person to wonder these things! So, let’s wonder, wrestle, and grapple together, shall we?
I’ve been wondering what good prayer does. What is its purpose?
This question seems to gnaw at me more when big, difficult things are happening and people ask for prayer. Or I ask for prayer. And I start to wonder, what is the point of prayer?
Right now I am following THREE Caring Bridge websites of precious children in the hospital very ill. On life support! With so many health challenges facing them. There are moments of wonder if one of them will even leave the hospital.
And so I pray! It is all out of my hands, out of my control, so I pray.
Right now there are some big things going on in my family that are rocking my world and causing me to wonder a lot about my future. Big decisions that are dependent on another person. Those decisions will affect MY future.
And so I pray! It is out of my hands, out of my control, so I pray.
In the Caring Bridge updates the families ask for prayer. Those updates are forwarded, copied, and posted all over Facebook asking for prayer.
But what do our prayers do?
One thing that has always bugged me is it seems that some people believe, or at least act like, if ENOUGH people pray, THEN our requests will be granted.
“Get this on a prayer chain!”
“Ask everyone for prayers.”
(anyone else heard those phrases a lot??)
PLEASE DON’T GET ME WRONG! I DON’T BELIEVE THOSE ARE WRONG! I DON’T THINK IT IS WRONG TO ASK FOR PRAYER!!!! I BELIEVE PRAYER IS GOOD!
It just feels sometimes like we act like the more people we have praying the same things, the higher our chances are of getting what we want.
Does God have a quota? Does He require us to get a certain number of people praying THEN he will answer us? If we aren’t “popular” enough to reach that quota are we out of luck? Will we change God’s mind by our prayers? Does He not already know that we all want those children to be totally healed and for them to get back to playing in their backyards and fighting with their siblings? Does he need to be reminded of our desires? Why do we have to beg Him over and over and over and over to heal their bodies, our relationships, our hearts, etc. Isn’t it pretty obvious?
And what if God doesn’t heal those kids? What if God doesn’t work out my family issues in a positive way? Are we to believe that our prayers didn’t work? Are we supposed to think that He didn’t hear us? Did we not meet the quota of prayers required to get our answer? If we would have prayed more, gotten more people to pray with us, would we have swayed God’s decision in our favor?
I don’t think so. Based on the God I see in the Bible, I don’t think He works on “prayer quotas”. I don’t think he has a tally board in Heaven ticking off the number of prayers per request to see if we make it.
But then, why pray? If we can’t change God’s mind, if He already knows the desires of our hearts, why pray?
I wish I had a neat buttoned up answer. I don’t have one.
What I can offer is this list of questions and wonderings. And one observation from my own life.
Praying changes my heart, the prayER’s heart. My prayers often start as a simple, or specific or list of requests. But over time, it changes. It gets more broad. More vague even. It changes to praying for more God-focused things. Praying not only for those precious children to be healed, but also for God to change those around them – their families, doctors, nurses, those who hear their story. My prayers, occasionally, will get a little more God-focused and less human or request focused.
And while that is good, and necessary, and shows a purpose for prayer….
I’m still left with questions. Questions I may never fully be able to reconcile in my head. But hopefully, through the course of my life, I will be able to see God’s purposes. And my trust in Him will grow.
But dang, those questions are nagging!!