The point of my prayer…

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.

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3 thoughts on “The point of my prayer…”

  1. Another view of Prayer is to align ourselves with God’s will and then act on it as God’s hand and feet and hearts in this world. We are called to be active co-creators with God to achieve the reconciliation of the world, the restoration of the Kingdom of God on Earth and the fellowship of all humans as children of God. So it is not really about an infinite God that we cannot fully know but an intimate directing God who fully know us and leads is in his paths.

    Passive response to prayer or giving up all power to act to God just seems off base to me.

    Connect. Listen. Act.

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  2. Bob,
    Yes. I agree with all you have said. The “call” though, that you talk about… while I agree with it, is indeed our understanding of what a large scope of scripture is calling us to. Not all would say that is a universal “calling.” The co-creator thing… I agree with it, for sure… but again, definitely something that we find implied in the Bible we read.

    But in regards to prayer, passivity is not a good thing at all. And I think God really does direct us. Yet, there is still that mystery to prayer which comes from an infinite God that we cannot fully know. With out the mystery, I think prayer becomes too easy.

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  3. There is Biblical warrant for the idea that God changes God’s mind. Moses essentially held God back from destroying the Isrealites after the whole golden calf thing.

    Prayer is such a delicate thing, my personal feeling lean toward the idea that prayer is for us not God. In that it is our way to communicate with God and listen to what God is saying. Does God need our prayers? I am not sure, but if God is calling you to prayer maybe God does.

    I have found in my life that God calls me whether or not I am “praying”. That is why I like to thinking about the idea of “praying without ceasing” that on some level my entire life is a prayer. I try to be open to hearing/seeing/feeling God’s presence and leading in my life.

    I haven’t worked it all out but there are my thoughts for whatever they are worth.

    Greg

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