Taking a risk – wondering about prayer

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.”

“Keep praying…”

(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!!

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Posted in God

5 thoughts on “Taking a risk – wondering about prayer

  1. Girl, we (bob and I) have had conversations over and over about this every topic. Because since God already knows what is to be spoken before it is spoke why pray? The best conclusion that we can come up with, is that it’s all about our relationship with Christ. We think about it this way, the way that we build relationship with one another, is by investing in their lives. Getting to know what they like, what they don’t like. Getting to know what brings them joy, and what hurts them. Well we see prayer as a relationship builder with Christ, as is reading His word! It’s not something that we practice like a magic trick. Where if we pray enough times, and we do something a certain way,that we’ll get what we want or because we didn’t meet a quota that God will with hold his love, we do it because we want to know Gods heart, and share our heart with Him. The bible says to present your requests to God. Not present your requests with God he will give us what we want. I think we can tend to think that we are intitled a little too much, and those intitlements can really reflect our heart when we enter into a time of prayer, instead of truly surrendering to Gods will.

    I maybe way off, but that’s what I think. Hope it helps to navigate though this really difficult process of questioning why we pray. Love you girl.

  2. My friend, Vicky –

    Right or wrong I have held for quite some time that prayer is communication with my best friends – The Holy Trinity. I talk to God, to Jesus and sometimes to the Holy Spirit as I talk to anyone of my friends. To me, prayer is part and parsel of my relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. No relationship without communication.

    As you indicated in your article some only think to pray when there is a need. Is that how you would want your children to come to you? Only when they need something? Me either.

  3. Prayer is an ackniwledgement of need to a God who already knows I need it. He doesn’t need me to ask. But when I ask, I am acknowledging that He is in control. It’s the same with my kids. I don’t help them unless they ask for help. They don’t get help from me by struggling on their own, by whining or complaining. When we still the busy-ness and calmly ask for help, the focus is taken off of ME ME ME and transferred into the One who knows my future. He knows it, but I don’t. So I ask. There can be no relationship when one party refuses to communicate. I don’t think that “there is a quota” for numbers before God will answer, but desperation gets His attention.

    “But then, why pray? If we can’t change God’s mind, if He already knows the desires of our hearts, why pray?” –He knows, but WE DON’T. It’s about relationship.

    Great topic 🙂 I’m glad you are asking!

  4. Prayer baffles me at times, and I am still learning so much. I don’t think I have the answers. For me, prayer is a way to communicate with the heart of God. True, He already knows the outcome of it all. I wish I had more words of wisdom. It’s healthy to ask these questions of God.

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