Rewind. Pause. Push Play. Aaron asks, “Why does God ask us to pray?”
March 31, 2011
Rewind. Prayer is one of the first things we learn to do as Christians. It’s how we started this whole new life – asking God to forgive us our sins and take control. It’s what we do after Bible studies, before dinner, to kick off Axiom.
But if God knows our every thought, our every need, why do we pray? Psalm 139:2 says, “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.” And we know God is all-powerful; He doesn’t NEED us to make anything happen. So why does He ask us to ask Him?
The biggest reason, Aaron said, is the “dignity of causality.” God allow us to take part in His process of making things happen. He thinks highly of us and gives us the honor of playing a part in the unfolding of His purposes.
For example, Jesus told the disciples to react to the need for Christians to spread the gospel with prayer. “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few,” Jesus said. “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” God is the Lord of the harvest. The field is His. The workers are His.
But God still asks us to pray for this – in part to include us in that work. And also in order to change our own hearts.
- Water Walk success
- To be noticed
Once we’ve asked God for something, we tend to do two things that undermine the power of prayer.
One, we wonder, “Wouldn’t God have done this anyway if it was a good thing?” To which the answer comes back from C.S. Lewis: That applies to everything. Wouldn’t God have accomplished every good thing anyway, without us, if He wanted to? That doesn’t give us a reason to not work to do good.
The second response is a “heads I win, tails you lose” objection. We pray for what we want, and if it doesn’t happen – well, prayer just doesn’t work then. (This is how I debunked Santa: Five straight years of asking for a pony and not even getting a horseshoe meant something was up.) And if it does work, then we wonder, is there a natural explanation for why this happened? Maybe you would have gotten the A anyway. Maybe your grandparent was already going to get better. Maybe you would have gotten the job no matter what. But if we knew we “made” it happen through prayer, we would be corrupted. It would require less faith. We would feel we had done whatever it was that had been accomplished – rather than God.
There are many reasons God has for not answering our prayers the way we would like. We can’t see the consequences of our actions. We don’t have a complete understanding of what is good. But God still calls us to, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18)
Prayer isn’t all about having our requests answered. Just like Mother Theresa said, sometimes we come before the Lord and ask for – nothing. We say nothing. We merely kneel before our God and our profoundly changed.
Aaron called us to remember that the true nature of prayer is when we finally experience divine life with God. We can meet with God whenever. We trust, even when our requests go unanswered, that it’s not because God didn’t hear us or isn’t big enough to do what we asked – it’s because He chose not to answer us in love, in wisdom, and with a view of the bigger picture we are incapable of seeing in this moment.
Wwe tend to ask, “Why isn’t God the way I want Him to be?” But when we come to Him in prayer, Aaron said, our hearts reply with another question: “Why am I not behaving the way God wants me to behave?”
Let’s come before the Lord, realize His goodness, and strive to align our hearts with His purposes. We need the strength He supplies to do so. In order for our hearts to be changed, we need to return to our knees.
Aaron ended with this: “You need God far more than anything you can ever get from Him.”
Do we live like that’s true?
Do we pray like that’s true?
What would our lives look like if we sought God more passionately than we seek the stuff He gives us?