I read an article in “Christianity Today” this week about some of the things about God & faith that seem to be exact opposites, but actually co-exist in truth. There are several things in the Word that seem to be like that.
One pair of thoughts that has come to me often regarding prayer, as I study it & practice it & try to do it well & often, is:
God is sovereign & has a plan.
If I pray, it will make a difference.
You can’t take language and create sentences to explain logically that both of these statements are true. You can’t give reasons & evidence & illustrations to completely convince. But they are true.
God is absolutely in complete control. He is also outside of time & space & has a plan for today & all eternity. So, He doesn’t change His mind. But He invites His children to join Him in creative activity through the medium of prayer. And eternity is impacted by those prayers. Somehow. It’s just true & we’ll enjoy finding out a little bit of how that works by scholarship & experience throughout all our lifetimes. And in heaven, we’ll say, “DOH!”
Is the only prayer He wants to hear from me, “Thy will be done?” That’s a great prayer to pray, but I have so much more I want to say to Him. I guess a lot of times when I’m talking, I’m exploring & testing possibilities & working on solutions, but I always end up with that prayer (incidentally, that’s the prayer that never fails). It’s just that in between “Dear God” & “Thy will be done,” I can learn a lot. About me, & Him & the specific situation & how to pray & how to live & how much I don’t know. God can correct my wrongful thoughts or direct me to practical ways I can be the answer to my own prayers. He can allow me to experience a range of emotions that help shape my character & deepen my desire & compassion. He can prepare me for a “for now” answer that may come as a step toward real resolution sometime in the future.
If you’re like me, you start praying for Susie’s toe surgery & your mind meanders on over to paying off the church building debt – God can direct you to praying for things you weren’t even thinking about (& that weren’t on your list!). [I know satan is not going to be doing this, so if you say weird things to God when you’re praying, he ain’t making you do it! He stops you from praying & gets you thinking about how Susie’s toe surgery is her own fault, etc.]
This is why practice (“Pray without ceasing”) is really important. It’s like Mr. Miyagi making Daniel-San “wax on, wax off” [Karate Kid}. Daniel was unwittingly using muscles & learning movements to aid in doing something so much bigger than making a car look good. Simply put, God is doing big things & today my assignment is to pray. Same assignment tomorrow. And 20 years from now. In between prayers, sometimes, He’ll instruct me to carry out some kind of physical action (like that flamingo kick or whatever that was Daniel-San did when he won the tournament). One thing the prayers will do is make me ready.
PS – link below to the article that started me thinking: