Recommended to read while listening to Oceans, Hillside United
My wife has been in the hospital since Thursday (5 days ago). I’ve been spending a lot of hours in prayer the last few days. It has caused me to think about the concept of prayer and its function.
I’ve narrowed my conclusions down to responses to the following two questions:
- Can prayer change things in this world?
How can our requests to God accomplish anything if God is truly omniscient (all knowing) and almighty? He not only knows what we are going to pray but has surely already aligned those prayers with his plan (EPH 1:11). So, do our prayers influence anything in this world and if so, how?
So we have this paradox (An almighty and all knowing God vs the concept of free will) – God already knows everything that is going to happen while at the same time he gives us free will to influence what is going to happen.
Paradoxes only occur when we have absolute truths. The absolute truths that I have been able to discern in my short (and far too limited) research of scripture are these:
- God knows all things and is almighty – 1 John 3:20, Isaiah 46: 9-10
- God gives us free will – Genesis 1:26, Deuteronomy 30: 19, 20
- God wants us to pray and implies it does good – James 5:16
- God hears our prayers when they are of his will – 1 John 5:14
So, it seems that the possibility does exist (through free will) to pray and influence God when we are of His will. Which I can sort of wrap my head around because that is the purpose of free will to being with. Without free will we are just actors playing out a script that God has already written and we have zero influence over the ending. With free will, we are given a choice – to either act out in accordance with God’s will OR act in accordance with some other plan. If we choose to act in line with God’s will then He will listen and will be there to help us. This however implies the power of prayer is only helpful when it is in accordance to His will.
I still don’t feel that I have fully answered the question – Can prayer change things in this world?
I suppose that is because paradoxes can’t be explained in our minds. Paradoxes are perhaps more comprehensible to a higher being like God, yet still confusing and unexplainable to human beings like myself.
- What is the purpose of prayer?
Since I wasn’t able to answer the above question conclusively I’m not (yet) willing to claim that the purpose of prayer is to change things in this world. It might be one of the purposes, but I’m convinced it is not the only purpose.
I spend a lot of my prayer time listening to music. One song I often listen to while praying and have actually had on repeat for the last hour while writing this post is Oceans, Hillside United.
The song Oceans has these lyrics:
I will call upon your name…
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith would be made stronger in the present of my Savior
In these lyrics I find a powerful reason for prayer – Trust and Faith.
Trust that His plan is what is best and Faith that aligning our plan with His plan will draw us closer to Him. To me, prayer is an act of Faith and exercising that act helps us understand and consequently execute His plan.
I’m sitting in the hospital right now on day 5 of watching the woman I love suffer. The doctors say she is most likely heading into surgery tomorrow. The day before we arrived she was surfing in the ocean with me. This would be the second surgery of it’s type in 4 months. It puts the woman I love at risk, puts her in more pain, and involves a difficult recovery for her. This is not my plan. I don’t like this plan. I don’t understand this plan. And it hard for me to get behind this plan. But each time I pray on this topic, I pray that God’s will be done. I pray that I won’t become bitter if this is the plan that God has. I pray that he uses this situation to further his plan and for his Kingdom to be glorified.
Prayer is a topic that seems to be full of paradoxes that are beyond what my mind can comprehend. What I can understand at this time is I can use prayer to align my will with God’s will as an act of faith.