Friday, May 07, 2004

A response

Paul asked me a question:
Hi Bill.
How do you reconcile the unanswered prayers we often endure with the "power praying" we hear so much of in the Christian world right now? How does this affect your prayer life? Personally I see much honesty and truth in what you say about prayer and find myself extremely challenged in this area lately. Email me if you like.

Keep up the excellent thoughts!


He speaks about "power praying." I'm not sure but I believe Paul is referring to things like prayer of Jabez and other ideas. My understanding of it is that if we keep praying for something then eventually we will persevere in our prayers and they will be answered. This is a staple with the Pentecostal Faith Movement and has started to come into main stream evangelicalism. We pray the same prayer until God answers.

Paul asks how do I reconcile "unanswered prayers." For me its simple.

Jonny is 6. Every couple days he goes with his mom to the store on their way home from his after school program. Once every couple weeks he asks his mom if he can have a candy bar or an ice cream cone. His mother almost always says yes unless it is going to be too messy or it will spoil his diner. Sometimes she buys him something but he can not eat until after diner. She loves him.

Jonny is 8. Every couple days he goes with his mom to the store on the way home. He has learned that if he asks for candy he gets it. So he has started ask every time they go to the store. Most of the time his mom says no. Every couple weeks she gives him candy.

Jonny is 10. Jonny has learned that the more often he asks the more often that mom says yes. But lately he has started to ask even when they are at home. He will ask before school and after school and before he goes to bed. Jonny's mom has grown weary of the constant nagging. In many respects she has stopped listening. On occasion she will hear but simply answer no. Nagging just doesn't work.

Jonny is 12. He has started to be a fox. He tries to use long sentences and big words to get what he wants. For a while it worked. But soon his mother learned it was the same old game. Jonny never got any more candy or ice cream. He was mad at his mother for not answering his request. His mother was just tired of listening.

Why do we act as though we are little children always asking for a good thing? Will God spoil us? Sometimes we are so immature. Why are some prayers not answered? I think sometimes God gets tired of nagging and just want fellowship and conversation. He truly stops hearing us.

Secondly, I think often we pray for things that
1) are not in God's nature to do.
2) are not in God's power to do.

heresy, God can not do something? Is not God sovereign?

I said before I see and hear an open God. If i ask God to change the past or the consequences of a past action he can not. He does not have the power to change the past.

God can not show us the future. If the future is yet to written he can not show it to us. He shows visions and dreams, they are not the literal future.

God can not "punish our enemies. I have heard people pray for Saddam to die and the like. Or even that Clinton would go to jail. It is not in God's nature to take sides in political struggles. Israel is no longer the chosen race so why would God supernaturally intervene on behalf of one nation? God fights against principalities and powers not stupid humans.

It is not in God's nature to make us rich. Often people pray for wealth. They pray that God would tap into his heavenly gold and give us some. The problem is it is mostly Americans praying this prayer. We are all rich so shut up.

Sometimes i think we see God as this all powerful father whose job it is in life to give us gifts. We portray Christmas like that and we pray think that. God is not about giving gifts. God is about being in community with us. Walking talking and crying with us.

Maybe our prayers are not answered because we ask for too much. We think rattling off our wish list is praying. If you have a friend you want to be able to vent just say what is bugging you on that given day. If you always ask the person to fix it then 1 they will eventually run. 2 they will not be able fix it so you will run to someone who can.

Lets be real friends with God. Real beings in community with each other.


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