At the very core of who we as humans are, and how we interact with the world, is what we think about God, how we interact with God, and how God interacts with us. This effects everything about how we live. I have wrestled with prayer, that talking and listening that happens between a divine being and a human, physical… spiritual… and the union of the two. After listening to a challenging sermon from Greg Boyd, at Woodland Hills Church in MN, I am now thinking again about prayer. This is what I take confidence in:
– God is infinite / I am finite. God is all that is real, all that is true. There is no way that I will understand all of who God is. It simply is not feasible.
– In this line of thinking, it seems to me that it wouldn’t make sense to think that God needs us or depends on us for his existence or for his fulfillment (using “his” as a general… not saying God is a man…). At the same time, God has made us in his image. As God, by nature is a relationship in the trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), we also are made for relationship.
– Now God is infinitely satisfied by relationship only by an infinite relation (ie, God’s-self)… and we, being created in his image, are also satisfied ultimately only by a relationship with an infinite being. All other finite relations fall short of meeting our ultimate need. So we need God.
And therefore, prayer:
– If God is not dependent on us, does prayer really have an effect on the events of this world or on God’s actions? I have thought for a long time, that mostly what prayer does is to allow us to be open and in alignment with what God is already doing. At the same time, though, we exist in a world that exists and we are not just here to sit around and wait for things to happen. I have thought for a long time that we are called to “be the prayer” we have for others.
– In a relationship, though, don’t each involved have an effect on the other? If prayer is communication with God, is it really a relationship if God is ultimately not effected by our prayers? The entirety of the Bible shows me that God is effected by our prayers.
– So then, if God is effected by our prayers, does that mean his action in this physical and temporary world can be changed, or is dependent on us? I guess this is where my limited understanding of the infinite fails me.
My conclusion rests on this. God invites us to pray with the promise that he will do what is best and will respond to our prayers. Ultimately, I have very little control over the world. God, on the other hand, created all of this… To pray to a God who is in control and promises to respond is perhaps one of the greatest things that I can do. To be in an interactive relationship with a God who sustains all things… governments, nations, climates, animals, and individual humans… and wants what is best for all… to be in a relationship with this kind of God, and to know that my prayers make a difference, this seems to me to be a wonderful place to be.
Of course, if one is a naturalist, atheist, humanist, etc… none of this matters and everything really is up to us. Seems to me to be a very anxious place to be. I am definitely up for dialoging about that, and open to critique.