Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Is Prayer Magic?
It is interesting to see people respond to the topic of prayer. For so many they think that it is some kind of magic. I say my prayer and poof, I get what I ask for. Or if it doesn't work just the way they prayed, they figure that they must have said the wrong magic words. But prayer isn't like magic, and prayer isn't like a vending machine where you put in your money and pick out what you want. God does not respond to our every desire just the way we want. And that is a good thing, because often we don't know what is best for us, and if we got what we wanted, it would really cause us trouble.
So if prayer is not magic, then what is prayer and how does it work? First and foremost, prayer is an opportunity for us to communicate with God, and a way for God to come to us (or a better way to say it is "commune" with us). Think for a moment about communicating with your mother or father. Do you walk up to them and speak to them a list of all the things you want them to do for you? I wouldn't think so. To communicate, you share your thoughts and feelings with them; you tell them what is going on in your life; you relay to them the important things you want them to know. It is the same for us and God. We should come to God to share our thoughts, feelings, frustrations, and joy. We should talk to God about what we want God to know. We should speak to God as though He doesn't already know us, for prayer is more for us than it is for God.
And yet, prayer is for God as well, because in this time, we are to allow ourselves to feel God's presence, and let Him guide our thoughts to become His thoughts. In this time of quiet before God, we can actually hear God (and sense God) speak to us. You cannot listen, you cannot hear, if you do not stay quiet.
However, the Bible does tell us to "make our requests known to God." Asking is an aspect of prayer. And yet, we get confused by Bible verses that tells us: "Ask and it shall be given to you..." and "I will do whatever you ask in my name..." These verses make it sound like God will grant our every request. What is up with this? The truth is, that the Bible is a whole book, and fits together as such. To take one verse as the whole truth will get us lost every time. Along with these verses of God giving us what we ask, are the verses that bring further understanding telling us that what we ask for is to give glory to God. So, to ask God for a new Corvette is probably not what God will give to you. It probably is not what will bring Him glory, and what will help you in your life live out the purpose God has for you.
So, when you pray, go to God to build your relationship with God; share yourself with God. Also, let yourself be quiet before God and seek to hear what God might want to say to you. It might simply be: "I love you, my child." And, when you do make your requests known, try to temper them with the understanding that God answers prayer within His timing, and within His will. Tell me what you think. (firstname.lastname@example.org)