Sunday, January 10, 2010

What Happens When We Pray?



So, we're about ready to move on to the offeratory, but let me ask you one more question about petitions before we do: when you make a petition, what exactly are you doing?

If you're like me, your immediate answer is, I'm asking God to help in a situation. To make a change. Or maybe just to pay attention.

But think about that for a second. If we are correct that God is all-loving and omniscient, shouldn't he already know about whatever the thing is we're praying for? In fact, shouldn't he already be doing something about it?

If you look at the Old Testament, especially the Psalms, you'll see that this question wasn't a problem for the Jews. God's omniscience and all-powerful-ness was all the more reason to pray, because... well, look around. Things aren't going so well, are they? Which means God has turned his back on us.

Sometimes they leave it right there, with a sort of implication that God is being a jerk. But a lot of other times, they take it a step further: the only rational reason God would abandon us is because we abandoned him. Not exactly a one-size-fits-all argument today... are we going to blame the death of a loved one on our sinfulness? As they say on British TV, not bloody likely.

But in that precise case, what's going on? Why hasn't God intervened? Why should our prayers matter more? Think of all those right now... right now... who no one is praying for, no one knows about. Are we saying, lacking the petitions of others, they've been forgotten by God? Again: not bloody likely.

It's all sort of a mystery, isn't it?

And yet, when we take a few minutes for the people that we've promised to pray for, saying their names quietly to God, is it just me or do we feel so much more grounded and in touch?

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