Now... i'm sure i've tackled this question on my blog before - because i think every believer has asked it in their lifetime. i went & used the "search this blog" box that's in my sidebar & it came up with a bajillion posts where i used the word 'prayer' - so... not so helpful, search box. i guess i talk about it a lot... It has been my "school" this year, my Teacher gently leading me through healing and tender comfort by drawing me in to pray.
For some reason, i really feel the need to write a disclaimer on this post - i know i do that a lot, but i want anyone reading this to see who is writing this: i'm an uneducated stay at home mom. i have 2 years of college (music school) & i have never been to bible school. i love Jesus - & i strive to learn, but suffice it to say - i make lots of mistakes. It's not my intention to take on the role of teacher - i just want somewhere to write & think through these tough topics. Question me, correct me, teach me, encourage me... this whole, "loving God" thing... i'm in.
Sooooooo, here goes...
1. ) If God already made up His mind, why do we ask Him for things?
First of all, there are several instances in the bible where God heard an appeal & took action. Off the top of my head, i'm thinking of:
*When Moses asked Him not to destroy all of Israel when God told Moses that that was His plan.
*When Hagar and her son Ishmael were dying in the desert, and God heard her & had compassion on her.
*When Hezekiah begged God to let him live longer and even though it might not have proved the best course of action, still God did it.
*When Aaron and Hur held up Moses' staff so that the Israelites would win in battle - they physically had to keep that staff in the air - or their enemies would begin to win...
There were also times when God said, "no":
*When David begged for his son's life.
*When Paul asked God to remove the "thorn from his flesh".
*& even when Jesus asked, 'if it's possible, let this cup pass from me - yet not my will, but thine...'
So, i don't think it's fair to imagine God a brick wall - where no comfort is found... The bible tells us In Philippians:
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need,
and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
2.) Yes, but obviously He's ultimately going to do whatever He wants... again... why pray?
Prayer is transformative. We often think that prayer should be transformative in the sense that God bends to our will... when if we think about it... that would be a pretty horrible thing. Prayer transforms our heart so that we can pray like Jesus, "Yet not my will - but thine..." & then our hearts beat in unison with God's & our will becomes His will - not the reverse.
Also, 2 Corinthians talks about the weapons of our warfare not being of the flesh, but being divinely powerful. i firmly believe that we're fighting a battle that isn't even in this realm - our prayers are having an impact. This becomes more clear when we read about the armor of God in Ephesians:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
3.) But i was praying for something GOOD - i was praying for an end to abortion, the reconciliation of a relationship that was precious to me, for TRUTH to come out... Those are all things that i know God wants... why was the answer still NO?
Because GOD is GOD.
Here, from Job... i actually can't read this chapter without hearing Him ROAR...
4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
My sister & i had a conversation once about God's timing. We got talking about how sometimes we wait for something & we ache & we pray & we cry out for it... & finally when it is answered - we SEE - that God was doing something bigger than we could have imagined... He was weaving our ache, our request, our tearful plea - into a tapestry that required the most intricate timing. God hasn't forgotten about you... (or me...) He won't leave the thread of your agony dangling - but He sees another weak and wounded sinner - who has a part to play, He sees the day and the hour that would bring all to rights & ultimately, i trust Him with my life.
Oh, Father GOD - my defender, & the "lifter of my head"... When i lack words, i'll pray the scriptures, when i lack the scriptures, i'll pray with groanings, when i lack groanings, i'll pray with face bowed in Your presence... You are worthy of all prayer & praise. i love you.
(from psalm 3)
1 O LORD, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying of my soul,
there is no salvation for him in God.
3 But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4 I cried aloud to the LORD,
and he answered me from his holy hill.
5 I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
7 Arise, O LORD!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
8 Salvation belongs to the LORD;
your blessing be on your people!
Obviously this post is incomplete... i have more questions about prayer & i'm sure you do too... wanna explore them together?