Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Growing up, prayer was a lot about words. "Dear Lord Jesus.... so on an so forth, ratatatat, yada yada yada....." the idea was to be eloquent as you covered all the bases. Give thanks, say how beautiful god is (as if you've ever seen him) ask for forgiveness, pray for so and so's salvation, and so and so's healing... in Jesus mighty name, amen.
The thing is that these are all just words. And most of the time they came out of my mouth or brain while I was laying in my bed, staring at the ceiling, as though the stucco would answer my prayers. Part of me always thought that the ceiling was the end of the road for all those good intentions.
Over time I've come to consider prayer to be less about the words I send into the eaves and more about the yearnings and sadness and hope and joy that proceed from my insides. I think that this is a far more accurate assessment of things.
But beyond that.... prayer confounds me. It occurred to me at some point that whenever I think about "answers to prayer" that I have experienced, it could be explained away as a coincidence, or a natural eventuality. For example, if I prayed that I would find something lost, and then found it, would I have found it anyways had I not prayed? When someone prayed that I would be healed of my cold, and three days later I miraculously recovered, is it possible that the illness simply ran its course?
Is God truly not in control, and if so, how could He manipulate the universe in such a way as to selectively provide answers?
Nevertheless I can't deny that there's something to this whole prayer thing. I could rationalize it away all day, but in the end, I will still catch myself doing it, my insides involuntarily communicating with..... something, and I wonder when it happens, what is God like and what effect do my prayers have on His frame of mind?
I plan to pick up some books on the subject. Do you have any thoughts?