Saturday, May 19, 2012

Prayer: You're (Probably) Doing It Wrong.

Prayer is a Conversation

So often it seems that the purpose, and the intent of prayer is lost on those of us who make up the collective body of Christ. Either we come to God in prayer with an agenda - what we want to get from it ("Genie in a Bottle" prayers), or we come to him as a means of hedging our bets ("Lottery Ticket" prayers). Both of these are laughably incorrect. I picture Christ as the type who lovingly laughs at us when we get something as wrong as we often get prayer. I can see him looking down at us and laughing like a father would laugh at his child's insistence that he can fly. "Oh, how comically ignorant!", I can imagine him saying.

Prayer today only vaguely bears resemblance to some of the great, awesome examples of prayer we can find with ease if we will only open that dusty book on the shelf known as the Holy Bible. There are some pretty amazing things in there if you will sit down, quiet your mind, and read for a few minutes. There are lessons upon lessons to be learned from the examples of those who came before us. They understood that prayer is not intended for us to present our shopping list to God; rather, it is the time (or times) of the day in which we are so privileged to be able to spend time alone with God in conversation, to grow in our relationship with him, and to receive wisdom, grace, mercy, and blessing – all of which come from spending time in his presence.

Jesus is neither a genie in a bottle, nor is he a lottery ticket. Our wish is not his command (and all thanks to him that they are not!), and he is not a means of hedging our bets in case we cannot ourselves get what we so desire. These views of God and his providence are understatedly small in their scope, and offensive. Would you want to worship a god who only exists to give you what you want? Chances are fair that you already do, and that you see that god each day in the mirror. Would you rather worship a god who may or may not care about you and may or may not listen to you when you try to talk to him? Neither of these sound like a being worthy of our praise, and yet this is what we have (in our own minds at least) made God into. We made him first into the Genie-in-the-Bottle god, and when our Genie stopped granting our wishes, he became the Lottery Ticket god, who may or may not work in our favor, but it doesn’t hurt to try. When God does not answer our prayers, rather than looking at the content of the prayer itself to see whether or not we allowed pride or selfishness to seep in, we tend to assume that God doesn't care about us, because he didn't answer our pryer for a raise that, truth be told, we didn't actually need. Read more

No comments: