Recently, I have found myself questioning the purpose of prayer. I know I am not the only one – from what I have read, a large percentage of Americans are unsatisfied with their prayer life and are not really sure if prayer works.
This is where I was getting stuck: Why bother? If God knows everything, why do I need to mention it? I found myself doubting if it made any difference. I mean, would God really change all of His plans just because I asked? Isn’t God just going to do what needs to be done regardless of what I think? Jesus did it (prayer), so there must be a purpose behind it, I just don’t fully get it. I knew that it was a way to communicate with God and a time to hear from Him, but somehow, I felt like I was missing the bigger picture. So what did I do? Two things – joined the prayer team at church and found a book. I figured the best way to figure this out was to do it and put some effort in to learn about it.
Philip Yancy (who is a wonderful author) wrote a book called, ” Prayer, Does It Make A Difference?”. I am still reading it, but I am starting to figure a few things out. A few things are starting to click about prayer in a deeper way than they ever have before:
a. God operates by different rules of time and space. God has, quite literally, all the time in the world for each one of us. My brain becomes overwhelmed at the thought, but that is okay. I want a God bigger than what I can understand. God’s infinite greatness, which I would expect to diminish me, actually makes possible the very closeness I desire.
b. When asking about why bother asking God of anything in prayer, Yancy makes a good point. If you are at the top of the mountain where the snow begins the melting process and runs down the mountain side to create stream and then into a river, you have a much better perspective than someone standing by the riverside at the bottom of the mountain. Prayer realigns our perspective. “Prayer is the act of seeing reality from God’s point of view”
c. ”In the presence of the Great Physician, my most appropriate contribution may be my wounds.” Kind of nice to know I don’t have to be perfect in prayer, in fact the less perfect the better. I don’t really even have to do anything or come to prayer with a list. The point is to make what Patricia Hempl calls, a Habit of Attention.
Q. Why pray?
A. God is already present in my life and all around me; prayer offers the chance to attend and respond to His presence.
Some of this I already knew. I heard this stuff growing up in church, but for some reason, it feels like I am discovering this stuff for the first time. I still have many questions, but that is for another day.