Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Questions of the Serious Kind

What I am about to write is honest. I am not sure I am supposed to ask questions like this. But they are questions I wonder about.

The Grenz has been a forum in recent months where we have discussed prayer in an authentic and helpful way. Hopefully that discussion will continue now.

I have been thinking a lot lately about prayer - its role in my life and its effectiveness. I have been praying more - a lot more - but I am not sure it is getting me any closer to God and it certainly hasn't gotten me any of things I have been praying for. So ... what's the use?

Today, I had several people tell me that they have been praying for the sale of our house in MI. On the one hand, I am thrilled by this, that people care for us. But on the other hand, I am left shrugging my shoulders. Do the prayers of many people make more of a difference with God than the prayers of one person? Are we hoping that one of these people is "in" enough with God to get the request before him? By asking many people to pray are we just getting as many hooks in the water as possible, hoping God might bite at one of them?

I pray frequently for the needs of some of my friends - housing, job, health, and spiritual stuff - but in my very honest moments, I am not sure my prayer on their behalf is making any difference.

And I look at my own life and I can see the fingerprints of God all over stuff - from my job opportunities to Vintage to my family - but this house thing (and the accompanying money thing) is beginning to consume me. If I am praying, and if my prayers are being mingled with the prayers of hundreds of others who are far more devoted to God than I am, and if the Spirit of God is reinterpreting all of these prayers to be in harmony with God's will, why isn't he doing something?

These are the questions I am asking right now.

Tagged -


ness said...

am I allowed to comment?

Robb said...

Is that a serious question? Of course you can comment.

A said...

A guy I love and respect a great deal once taught me something on the subject at a seminar that has stuck with me ever since. He likened prayer to a sporting event. Whatever the effect prayer has on God may be irrelevant or unknowable this side of eternity. However, when we pray, it is like being on the field/court of the sporting event as opposed to being on the bench. In the end, players who sat the bench get the same championship ring, but the ones who played in the game are far more connected to it and get far more out of the experience than those who sat the bench.

I view prayer as getting off the bench and onto the court of God's plan, regardless of the outcome. It is one of the processes through which my will is molded to His, and my desire for an outcome is shaped into line with His ultimate timing and plan.

Sara said...

I think it is 'ironic' that the questions that you are asking now are questions that i just asked God myself last night...

Questions like "Why aren't you doing anything that i can see?" "I know you're working in ways that i can't even imagine but when will i be able to see that work and be encouraged by it?"

"Lord, all I want to see is your glory. Why can't I see your glory? Won't you show me your glory?"

I remember something you said about prayer at Ithaca when i was a said "prayer shows us our dependence on God..." We may not get the answers we're looking for but that doesn't necessarily mean he isn't answering. He may not be working according to our time but that doesn't mean it won't be the perfect time when he does.

Of course this is all the things that you all ready know...I've been praying for about 8 years for my family's salvation and they still aren't saved, so should i stop praying...I think that there are people who occassionaly pray for my family's should I ask those people to forget about ever praying for them..granted a soul is a little different than a house...your house will sell just maybe not as soon as you would like it family may never get saved...and i often think about if one of them dies today...did i spend thousands of hours in a waisted time of prayer? Pointless, useless, it didn't change a damn thing kind of prayer?

The answer is...No...during those thousands of hours i've depended on God, i showed my dependence for strength grace, love in a situation that at times seems absolutely hopeless on the only thing that will never let me down.

It is just as you said, prayer is about a relationship...showing that dependency on him to get you through the hard times as well as the good even when he doesn't do things according to our schedule.

And the truth is we just never really know what he is actually doing...

Last night i prayed that i was tired of not seeing God change unsaved peoples lives..i know a lot of unsaved people, have built a lot of relationship and not a single one has come to follow christ yet... Today i went to my friend Stephanie's house to take her to a doctor's appointment she told me that she went to the Baptist Church she has lived next to for the past 4years on Easter Sunday...she has never even visited that church once...she lives right next door..and one phone call from the pastor brought her to church that sunday...she plans on continually she'll hear the gospel a lot more ...and maybe just maybe she'll get saved..

She also opened a lot more up to me about different beliefs that she has and we were able to talk..for weeks straight i've prayed for an opportunity and wasn't seeing any i stopped and then i realized that it wasn't that God wasn't working he just was working through a different avenue.

I know this has been long..and i feel kind of silly as a 22 year old just about to graduate college, only saved 8 years...trying to encourage a man who has helped see me through some of my darkest and most frightful moments...but i hope i've been able to offer some kind of hope...our prayers aren't waisted breaths they are precious...because during those times it seems as though we actually lay aside our independance and say "God I need you, you're the only person that can do anything?"

Our dependence on God i think goes a lot farther than we will ever realize...

Your house will sell...and I truly believe God has heard the prayers of many people...maybe he's just's just not time yet...

Andrew Warner said...

You know, I have been asking myself this same question and even have talked to God about it. I have been going through a pretty rough time and have spent time wondering if prayers of His saints are working. After a while all the nice and fun cliches on prayer I hear get old. I don't talk about openly much, so I am thankful you were brave enough to pose the question. I do feel like some of the Psalmists at those times when God seems to not be listening. I especially think of Psalm 13 and 77. Thanks for your honesty.

kevin said...

i dont think we should "give up" on prayer. but i must admit i have been there to. i guess we must think what the purpose of prayer is. is it to get what we want accomplished? or is it to show our dependence on God to meet the need. His time table is definitely a thing i question, but i think He knows what Hes doing. keep pressing on man!

akr said...

I understand those struggles and feelings...those times when it almmost seems like God is sitting on his hands. I am not sure where God is in it but I am sure that you are not alone and I know that often times religious platitudes are meaningless when the weight of things is crashing down. So my thought comes from my very wise father who is enamored with Red Green...Keep Your Stick on the Ice!

A said...

Red Green!! That is awesome, I loved that show when we lived in MI. Let's all recite the man's prayer . . . "if I have to, I guess."