A while back. . . like over a year ago, I made a blog entry concerning my views on politics and God. I won't rehash either but, it serves this entry to know that I do believe in God. That is to say, I believe in God but I don't necessarily believe in religion and the by-product of it all is that I am having a crisis of prayer.
I'm not looking for debate on whether prayer is good or helpful. I'm not looking for specific instructions on how to pray either because that seems to be from where my problems stem.
My church classes, both as a child and an adult, taught me that God is all knowing and all forgiving. God makes the plan and as Christians, we live to honor His name in our actions. Ideally, we are to offer ourselves every day to Him and ask Him to use us to do His work. I accept that. I also accept that in bad times, He always provides a gift. So, in considering the above, this is where my crisis of prayer comes into play.
In church I was taught to pray specifically. "Dear Lord, we pray that you guide the captain, the co-captain and the navigator of this plane. We pray that you are with the mechanics as they ensure the safety of the craft. We pray this in God's name. Amen." That's pretty specific; a targeted prayer . . . except that it flies in the face of the whole acceptance of "God makes the plan" part. No amount of praying is going to change the course of His plan, right? So why are we praying?
On a daily basis, friends ask for prayers, sometimes for sick loved ones, sometimes for healing, sometimes for something more tangible like getting a job or a part in a play. And I dutifully respond - "Praying", "On it" and I expend energy on whatever was requested. But what if what is being asked is not in His plan? What if His plan is to NOT let the asker get the job, or (hard to accept) not recover from an illness?
Prayer warriors, prayer chains, prayer groups; prayer is a common bond among many. Our beliefs might be 180 out from one another in many subjects but we come together in prayer. The question, though, that keeps going through my head is this: If God is perfect and He made the plan, then aren't our prayer efforts in groups or alone really just collective wishing? And if having faith means, at its core, that I trust that His plan is perfect even when is seems utterly horrendous, then isn't praying for a change like saying, "I don't like what your doing and I want it to go this way instead?" And isn't that line of thinking the opposite of believing in God is all about? Specific, targeted prayer flies in the face of Faith. It seems to me that the prayer should be more along the lines of "Please allow me to accept what is happening" or "Thank you for this difficult situation because I know You have a gift for me in all of this." I struggle with this daily, trying to realign my thoughts and prayers to be less specific, less about what I/we/others are asking for and more about how to find the Easter Egg, if you will, in what is happening around me. What would Jesus do?
I'm seriously looking for input here, in fact, I've been praying about it. Anyone want to weigh in?