Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How Now Shall We Pray?

Why pray? This is a topic I have wrestled with in my mind, much like many people probably do. I guess it isn't if I should pray. I know I should because the Bible says to and I believe that I should be obedient to God, even when it doesn't make sense. So the question is probably better posted as "how should I pray?" I have had some helpful answers to that topic in the last few weeks so I wanted to share those, in hopes that it would be helpful to someone else.

My husband and I had a conversation about this a little over a week ago. The steadfastness of his faith is something I really respect about him. It remains strong despite circumstances. I on the other hand, want to be that way. Want being the operative word here. My problem I guess has been the lense I was looking through, which is my own perspective. I don't think my question here is God's ability because I fully believe he can completely answer anything I need and do it in greater ways than I could imagine. The issue is, I know sometimes he doesn't by choice. The church answer to that is that regardless of how the circumstances turn out, it will be okay because God will strengthen us through it all and his ways are perfect. I know that, but I don't necessarily want that. For example, I pray for the safety and health of my two year old son. I really only want God to answer that in one way, with a clear yes. But, in my head I also know there is a chance that something could happen to him and I just can't, in my heart, say I would be okay with that. Again, I want my faith to be that strong, but it doesn't mean that it is. So my question is, should I even pray for his safety and health? Does it make a difference? And where does my peace come from in this?

Twice in the next few days after that conversation this topic was addressed, both indirectly and directly. Both echoed my husband's thoughts. It has really helped me in my understanding, giving me contentment without having the exact answer to fit into my perspective. First was indirectly addressed in a sermon from last week. In it was a verse that I have heard a thousand times.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-8
This is probably one of the go to verses whenever anyone talks about prayer. It finally caught my attention on Sunday though. And credit to my husband for not elbowing me when it was read (b/c it was the day after our conversation and this was basically his answer). My questions are simply addressed- prayer is not for the purpose of changing God's plan but I am encouraged to do it anyway for my benefit. The purpose is to relieve my anxiety through trust in God. And, unexplainable through my own lense of expectations, the result is peace. Not peace that I have to muster but peace that is granted through my heart and mind being protected by God.

The second response was from a blog I follow and I have linked the post here. I won't rewrite it because it doesn't need to be. So, click on the link and read it. The important thing to understand when reading this post is that it is from a blog called Bowen's Heart and is written by a family whose baby boy was born with a serious heart defect, causing him to be in the hospital from birth and has had seizures, a stroke, his chest opened up for surgery, multiple times where they thought they would lose him, all within the first early months of his life. If anyone has reason to doubt, to question the purpose of prayer, it is this family. The father addresses this openly and honestly in a helpful manner.

I hope this provides so guidance to you too.

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