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10.04.2005

Prayer

Jeremy had a good idea - what about a "guest blogging topic" for anyone who might want to delve further into something. So here's a TOPIC - what is PRAYER to you? Leave a comment, or email me with your essay/post.

"Does prayer change God? And what is at stake in how we answer that question?" I got this question in an email today, and it made me think: the more important thing might be how God would answer that question, not us. I don't know that prayer necessarily "changes" God, but it changes us. I was reading something the other day about how prayer changes us into the answer to that prayer - prepares us to be used for that for which we're praying. Grace comes from the Spirit somehow, enabling and empowering us for His use.

Before I start worrying about how prayer might change God or change God's plans or change God's mind, I need to contemplate how prayer might instead work to change me. Maybe it's not too much of a stretch to consider that we become the prayer - we become the tangible expression of God's will on this planet. I wish this had been my idea - from conversations recorded in the book - and in this context it looks like it makes sense. Just a thought.

3 Comments:

Anonymous denise said...

just stumbled across your blog tonight via somebody's link, lost track of who. i think i've read some of your stuff before in other blogs. i enjoy your stuff and love the mcmanus quote. i had the opportunity to hear him speak tonight. he's always got a challenging and fres word to bring.

4/10/05 11:22 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

hi, denise - thanks for stumbling by, where lots of us stumble from time to time :). i heard mcmanus last summer, and he was the best part of the PK events for '04. wish i'd been there this week to hear him in person, too.

5/10/05 8:42 AM  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

Saying "Can we change God" might be a little harsh or bold, for God is unchanging. However changing God's plans or his mind, yes.


Consider this passage from Celebration of Discipline.

"In our efforts to pray it is easy for us to be defeated right at the outset because we have been taught that everything in the universe is already set, and so things cannot be changed. And if things cannot be changed, why pray? We may gloomoly feel this way, but the Bible does not teach that. The Bible pray-ers prayed as if their prayers could and would make an objective difference. The apostle Paul glady announces that we are "collaborers with God", that is, we are working with God to determine the outcome of events (1 Cor. 3:9). It is Stoicism that demands a closed universe not the Bible.
Many people who emphasize acquiescence and resignation to the way things are as "the will of God" are actually closer to Epictetus than to Christ. Moses prayed boldly because he believed his prayers could change things, even God's mind. In fact, the Bible stresses so forcefully the openess of our universe that, in an anthropomorphsim hard for modern ears, it speaks of God constatnly changing his mind in accord with his unchanging love (see Exod 32:14, Jon. 3:10)
[...]
Perhaps the most astonishing characteristic of Jesus' praying is that when he prayed for others he never concluded by saying "if it be thy will." Nor did the apostles or prophets when they were praying for others. They obviously believed that that they knew what the will of God was before they prayed the prayer of faith. They were so immersed in the Holy Spirit that when they encountered a specific situation, they knew what should be done. Their praying was so positive that it often took the form of a direct authoritative command: "Walk," "Be well," "Stand up." I saw that when praying for others there was evidently no room for indecisive, tentative, half-hoping, "if it be thy will" prayers.
There is of course, a proper time and place to pray, "if it be thy will." [...]In the prayer of guidance it is the greatest yearning of our hearts to know the will of God [...] And then in the prayer of relinquishment, [when] we are committed to letting go..."

Foster, p.35-37

Therefore, like he said, if we are so immersed in the Holy Spirit, we will know what the will or heart of God is. Then we will be able to pray to change things, to even remind God of his compassion and mercy, as Moses often did for the Isrealites, or pray for healing or deliverance for others... when we are working with God.

5/10/05 9:57 AM  

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