Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Why I Pray

Before I get started writing about why I pray, first I want to say something about my blogging frequency.  Since I am not sitting in the chemo infusion room for several hours any longer, I haven't been blogging as frequently.  However, I have now decided to write shorter posts more frequently.  I love blogging, but fitting it into the schedule lately has been very difficult.  But, I am going to try to squeeze in a few minutes of blogging each day.  So hopefully, you will begin to see more frequent posts from me now.

Now, about prayer.  With all of the crazy things that happened last week, I have seen a lot of forwards and posts on Facebook about where God is in all of this.   I even saw a sarcastic caption on a photograph that said something like, "Why don't you just do one mega prayer to prevent stuff from happening again instead of praying after it happens?"  Even years ago as a believer, I was puzzled when contemplating God's sovereignty and prayer.  I mean, if God already has ordained what will happen for all eternity, then why does He need/want me to pray?  Of course, the most obvious reason that God wants us to pray to Him is because He wants a relationship with us.  How can you even have a good earthly relationship with a human without regular communication with that person?  The same goes with our relationship with God. To strengthen the relationship with Him, you need to communicate regularly.  Years ago as I was digging deeply into the questions about God's sovereignty, predestination and prayer, I came across this excellent demonstration written by John Piper in his Desiring God blog.  It is a conversation between "prayerful" and "prayerless."

Prayerless: I understand that you believe in the providence of God. Is that right?
Prayerful: Yes.
Prayerless: Does that mean you believe, like the Heidelberg Catechism says, that nothing comes about by chance but only by God's design and plan?
Prayerful: Yes, I believe that's what the Bible teaches.
Prayerless: Then why do you pray?
Prayerful: I don't see the problem. Why shouldn't we pray?
Prayerless: Well, if God ordains and controls everything, then what he plans from of old will come to pass, right?
Prayerful: Yes.
Prayerless: So it's going to come to pass whether you pray or not, right.
Prayerful: That depends on whether God ordained for it to come to pass in answer to prayer. If God predestined that something happen in answer to prayer, it won't happen without prayer.
Prayerless: Wait a minute, this is confusing. Are you saying that every answer to prayer is predestined or not?
Prayerful: Yes, it is. It's predestined as an answer to prayer.
Prayerless: So if the prayer doesn't happen, the answer doesn't happen?
Prayerful: That's right.
Prayerless: So the event is contingent on our praying for it to happen?
Prayerful: Yes. I take it that by contingent you mean prayer is a real reason that the event happens, and without the prayer the event would not happen.
Prayerless: Yes that's what I mean. But how can an event be contingent on my prayer and still be eternally fixed and predestined by God?
Prayerful: Because your prayer is as fixed as the predestined answer.
Prayerless: Explain.
Prayerful: It's not complicated. God providentially ordains all events. God never ordains an event without a cause. The cause is also an event. Therefore, the cause is also foreordained. So you cannot say that the event will happen if the cause doesn't because God has ordained otherwise. The event will happen if the cause happens.
Prayerless: So what you are saying is that answers to prayer are always ordained as effects of prayer which is one of the causes, and that God predestined the answer only as an effect of the cause.
Prayerful: That's right. And since both the cause and the effect are ordained together you can't say that the effect will happen even if the cause doesn't because God doesn't ordain effects without causes.
Prayerless: Can you give some illustrations?
Prayerful: Sure. If God predestines that I die of a bullet wound, then I will not die if no bullet is fired. If God predestines that I be healed by surgery, then if there is no surgery, I will not be healed. If God predestines heat to fill my home by fire in the furnace, then if there is no fire, there will be no heat. Would you say, "Since God predestines that the sun be bright, it will be bright whether there is fire in the sun or not"?
Prayerless: No.
Prayerful: I agree. Why not?
Prayerless: Because the brightness of the sun comes from the fire.
Prayerful: Right. That's the way I think about the answers to prayer. They are the brightness, and prayer is the fire. God has established the universe so that in larger measure it runs by prayer, the same way he has established brightness so that in larger measure it happens by fire. Doesn't that make sense?
Prayerless: I think it does.
Prayerful: Then let's stop thinking up problems and go with what the Scriptures say. Ask and you will receive. You have not because you ask not.
So why do I pray?  
I pray because, as God desires a relationship with me, I also desire a close relationship with Him.  Also, he desires me to pray as He wants to be glorified in everything I do.  If I communicate with Him about my struggles and He provides me strength, then He is glorified in that.  I praise Him for all things in my prayers.  In that, He is also glorified.  He is my Provider.  

I also love the following that John Piper wrote on prayer:

"One of the signs that God is going to do a great work is that he begins to stir up his people to pray for it. He lays a burden on a person here and a person there. He brings it back to their mind again and again. It stalks them. It drives them to their knees. Or it catches them on their knees.

When God aims to do a great work, the first thing he harnesses is the power of prayer. He starts by planting the spark of desire in a few hearts. Then through prayer he fans it into a flame. Then the flame of desire and faith spreads to others. Soon large numbers are on their knees imploring the great work. Then God acts. Then he pours down his blessing. God loves to do great works of redemption. But even more he loves to do it in answer to prayer."

I strive to be in close, constant communication with Him.  But sometimes, "life" and "busy-ness" begin to get in the way and prayers begin occurring less frequent.   When that happens, I begin to feel the closeness that I once had with Him to begin to slip away.  In a follow-up post, I am going to share something that I began doing recently to bring my prayer frequency back up to restore the close relationship I have with my Savior.

Happy Monday everyone!

2 comments:

  1. One of my favorite post of yours to date! I'll be looking forward to the follow up post!

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    1. Audra, thanks so much for commenting! :-)

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