Thursday, January 27, 2011

Don't let your praying knees get lazy

I don't pray on my knees. Do you? Does anybody? Knee praying seems mostly reserved for little blonde-haired girls before bed and after story time. Most of my prayers take place driving in my car or laying in bed. I never speak my prayers out loud unless it is prayer before a meal....or a quickie, for example, "Lord help me get through this." Sometimes I think praying to God only in my head is jipping Him, like I'm being lazy and am not speaking aloud to Him. However, my buddy, Sarah S., would tell me, "God just wants you to talk to him, he doesn't care how." I think I agree with that.

I wanted to talk about prayer in this blog because I have been praying A LOT lately, as you know my mom has been diagnosed with the big C(still not willing to say the word, so sue me,) Also because I have been asking, begging rather, for others, anyone, everyone to pray for her as well.

There are two REALLY big questions about God and my faith that boggle my brain more than any other, and that I bug my husband endlessly to give me better answers to than what he is able to give so far. Shame on him right? Just kidding. The two questions are THIS: Why are we supposed to pray. What does it do? AND, Has God PLANNED out my entire life, so that I do what he has set into order from Day One, or does he just KNOW my entire life, and sits back and watches it play out? These are my big two questions. Both questions are very much intertwined. If God has my life planned out, what's the point of praying? The big Man upstairs already said, "This is what's up, homies." If God does NOT have my life planned, and does not control what I do, What ALSO is the point of praying? Get what I'm saying? If my life is my choice, God does not control my decisions, then why pray for His intervene? That goes against what He does. If I could get someone, anyone, to answers these questions, I'd be good to go brother! Mostly when I ask people, like my husband, the answer is very vague and "fluffy" as I like to call it. "I don't know, that's a good question." or, "God can do anything." My husband thinks God made us to self-determine our lives, he gives us free will to make our own decisions. However, my husband also thinks God can intervene if He wants to. If you ask me, a toddler in God-school, I think that's crap! I need a answer that is ALWAYS the answer. Not, sometimes He does this, sometimes He doesn't.

We got really good news (so far) regarding what stage my mom's cancer is in. I have never prayed so hard in my life for this, and I know a lot of friends and family has prayed passionately and intensely for the same thing. Did God decide to bless her with an early stage, because he controls our life? Or did we just get lucky, because God does not interfere, just watches.

Am I praying because God will change the results, or simply to give my comfort that perhaps He COULD change the results. It's hard for me to understand the "It's God's will" or in "God's plan" stuff. What kind of "plan" involves my mom's demise? I'm sure plenty of God lovers in the past have gathered all their God-loving friends and prayed HARD for a loved-one"s sickness, but got bad news. If my prayers were "answered" why weren't theirs? Saying it's God's will insinuates that this is the course of God's plan and he has decided it in advance. Why pray then?

Funny, the next thought that popped up in my brain just now....

...maybe I should pray about it.


  1. Since you asked.

    Sara, I'm a contrarian when it comes to prayer. I think most prayers tend to be of three types:' Thanks,' when we're grateful for something nice, 'Help,' when we're taxed beyond our ability to cope, and 'Gimme,' when we want something.

    A 'Thanks' prayer is a nice, but unnecessary, bit of politeness that has always seems trivial to me, sort of like thanking a waitress in a restaurant for re-filling your beverage cup. You're going to tip her anyway, so what you're really saying is, "I'm a nice person, please don't spit on my food."

    A 'Help' prayer is self-therapy during the stressful periods of terror and helplessness against the malevolent forces of nature. I admit to using 'Help' prayers from time to time. Despite a questionable influence on the outcome, they do help relieve the immediate stress of a terrible situation. Two things come to mind: 'God helps those who help themselves,' and 'the malevolent forces of nature' include us, too.

    A 'Gimme' prayer is petty and self-serving, really greedy, when one realizes that ones gain must come from someone else's loss. Money and other forms of wealth, including health and welfare come from individual and group efforts, and are not created out of nothing like manna from heaven.

    In my contrarian view, these prayers, verbal or otherwise, have little to do with God. In one way or another, they tend to be self-serving. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I'm just saying one should recognize them for what they are.

    The most important prayer and for me the only necessary one, is living a good life. God's light shines on us all. We each reflect a portion of that holy light. The quality of ones reflected light depends on ones individual choices and actions. A good life has the purest reflection and is the best prayer one can make.

  2. Thanks Tony, I really appreciate your insight!

  3. These are really good questions. I say that b/c I asked them myself. Not gonna answer on the blog since I would rather talk in person. I want to hear Joshs take on these questions too. I know you want a "formula" answer that works every time, like you said, but when you have a friend, you never know exactly what they will do in every situation. You know their personality, so you can make a good guess and ask them to do things based on what kind of person they are, like if they are generous, you can ask for help with bills if you're short on cash. You don't know for certain if they will help or how much, but you know they are very generous as a personal trait so you ask for their help. I think that's like God, since He wants a friendship with us instead of having us be far away from him, living in fear and following rules so we don't make him mad. Friendship is comforting but never perfectly predictable. So all this is to say, when I pray I often don't know the outcome in advance, but I am making an appeal to God based on the fact that He is the ultimate Love, Mercy, Kindness, etc. And in the Bible we learn about how He WANTS us to pray and what kind of God He is so we can be better friends with Him. This is only partly answering your question, I know, but I wanted to at least say this.

  4. God is all-knowing. That's why He's God. Anything less would reduce Who He is, and then He would no longer be God. (How's that for philosophical?) I believe He knows all there is to know, including what you're going to eat for breakfast tomorrow, as well as the outcome of your mom's cancer. So yes, why bother praying? Like your friend above mentioned, it comes down to relationship. God made us for Him. He created you for His pleasure and purpose. He longs for us to know Him and to be known by Him. To pray is to get to know Him - to learn to ask, to trust, to question, to cry, to praise, to worship, to seek, to listen... We can't know Him if we don't spend time with Him.

    He knows how this season in your life is going to turn out. We don't always see the big picture like He does. Things happen here on earth as a result of sin. God created the world perfect, but sin came and now every single aspect of our lives is tainted by it. Hence things like cancer. "But we know that in all things God works together for the good of those who love Him..." There are a lot of answers we won't get until we join Him in heaven one day. And then, all things will make sense. It's not this world we live for. This is just the beginning.

    Sorry to babble in your comments section. Glad I found your blog. :)

    P.S. I pray on my knees every night. It slows me down, reminds me of the reverence God commands, and brings me more consciously before Him. Not perfectly...but doing it reminds me to be with Him.

  5. Hang in there, Sara. Even Jesus prayed, and I doubt He did it to jump through some hoop of religious ritual. He and the Father shared an awesome relationship while He was on earth (not to mention the one they have now). And, although it may same simplistic, I figure that if Jesus prayed to receive strength--among other things--how much more do I need to do the same thing.

    In fact, Scripture says that Jesus interceeds for us even now, at the right hand of the Father. That messes with my theology, because why would Jesus pray for situations that He knows the outcome to? But I'm sure glad He's praying for me and for you, however it all works out.