meditation on prayer

So, I’ve had this in my draft folder for nearly a month….

It’s more like a discussion than a meditation, really. The wunderhubby and I were discussing prayer and God’s intervention in the human realm. All through the Bible, God seems to be heavily influenced by prayer. For instance, in the Old Testament when a woman’s son dies, he allows Elijah to bring the boy back to life after Elijah prays and asks Him to. In the New Testament, Jesus capitulates to a woman who is not a Jew but desperately wants His blessing, and he seems to do so b/c she persistently asks Him for it.

So, we came up with a visualization for humanity, time, and God’s intervention style.

Warning: IT SUCKS. But I haven’t thought of a better one. Sorry.

Imagine life and time as we know it as a river that ultimately ends in the ocean. The river is filled with fish and other critters, and throughout its winding course, the water twists, bends, flows over rocks, and may even have some waterfalls, rapids, etc. Now, imagine that every fish in that river alters the course of the water in its sphere of influence ever so slightly, but definitely.

So, what if what we do is like what fish and critters do? They swim around, some creatures eat the fish, some creatures build dams, etc. Maybe God reaches down and inserts a stone in the water’s course every once in a while to make sure it ends up reaching the ocean. But, unless we ask him to intervene, he lets us experience the consequences of the choices of others, the consequences of living in a fallen world, and the consequences of our own decisions.

The bottom line: It doesn’t seem that God will necessarily plan out one’s life and make sure that you live to see the end of it. There’s always someone else who can carry out God’s plan…So, we have a couple of responsibilities: First, don’t be dumb. Take care of yourself and those around you. This is a crazy, messed up place to live, and bad things can happen for no good reason. Christians don’t have a “guaranteed to live ’til you’ve fulfilled your cosmic purpose card”…we can fall victim to a stray bullet, freak car accident, etc., just as easily as anyone else.

Second, PRAY. We have immense power with prayer b/c we see tons of examples of God listening to what we repeatedly (note: repeatedly and passionately) ask for and CHANGING HIS PLANS accordingly. This means that our prayers could literally save a life, or positively change a life forever.

Yes, I know…this is a silly, low-level realization. But I don’t think I’ve ever truly seen this before…that prayer has a very real-world power and a responsibility attached to it. If we have this type of power…and we don’t use it, then how can we blame God when things go badly? Did we even bother to ASK Him to do something about it before things went wrong? Did we ask His opinion of our choice?

It’s rather mind-boggling to think that WE can actually change God’s mind, just by talking to Him and asking for what we want. Granted, it’s not a guarantee that passionately wanting something and asking for it will make it happen…but WOW….what an amazing power we have been given.


If anyone knows of any good theologians who discuss this issue, I’d be intrigued to line up my understanding with theirs….



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2 responses to “meditation on prayer

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about several of the topics brought up in your proposed “river critter theory” (for lack of a better label) and should said theory be true I wonder what we should assume when one persistantly prays for something and it does not happen? Only conclusions I’ve thought up thus far (which I’m deeply unsatisfied with):
    a. critter asked for something outside of God’s will and thus was not given it, aka prayer answered in the negative
    b. critter’s prayer is not heard (unloved by God and thus ignored?)
    c. critter did not pray long enough or fervently enough
    d. thing asked for in prayer is outside of God’s control or power
    Perhaps I’m overlooking the obvious or these are conclusions that are way off topic… any thoughts?

  2. First, THANKS for the comment and for thinking abt this with me. I really appreciate it!

    Mostly, my theory assumes that the prayer is answered in the negative or was outside of God’s will b/c my theory assumes that God is fairly responsive to our requests. Another thought (and I think this is entirely possible) is that God DID answer the prayer in the affirmative and the person He used to answer the prayer chose not to cooperate. Ergo, the person who asked for the prayer suffers from the other person’s lack of action. (This is what I was trying to emphasize in saying that we have a lot of power in the choices we make–we can thwart God’s will in small things or we can help it along. I think God’s ultimate plans will come to pass, but I believe He gifts us with the power to make day to day interventions happen or not happen).

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