Aιτειτε και δοθησεται υμιν, ζητειτε και ευρησετε, κρουετε και ανοιγησεται υμιν
Eαν τι αιτησητε εν τω ονοματι μου, εγω ποιησω
My good brother in Christ and fellow blogger wrote,
Consider a prayer asking for anything you can think of: something shallow, like a new car. Something more meaningful, like our gentle old grandmother being rescued from cancer. This whole exchange is rooted in the assumption that things are meant to go a certain way. If we had not prayed, we would have not gotten the car, grandma would have succumbed to the cancer. One of the crazy things about this is, sometimes we act like we’ve got a reality by democracy. We do our little prayer chains and prayer requests and all those things as if the idea is, if enough people vote our way God will change the world. Another crazy thing is, that we act like God must be simply making it up as he goes. Or that we are so different than those people who tried to argue God out of his plans. Because, the thing is this: if God had a plan for us not to get that car, we are asking him to change the plan for us. We’re not any different than those people in the bible… except that, oftentimes, we’re doing it for much more selfish reasons.
This was a very perceptive post. I liked what he wrote a lot. It was very realistic. I especially liked what he said about the democracy of the prayer chain. “…if enough people vote our way God will change the world…”
It makes me wonder, really, why people do these things.
Jesus does say,
“Whatever you agree upon in prayer, ask, you will get it.”
(cf. Matthew 7:7, John 14:14, wow! the chapter and verse numbers!)
The reality, though, is that this doesn't seem to happen
much of the time.
Is it because we haven't enough faith?
Or because we haven't fasted?
Or because we're too sinful for God to hear us,
let alone grant our request?
Or because He has already decided to do something His way not ours?
The Jews have a saying in the Talmud that I have made much use of.
“Undo your will for the sake of Heaven, and Heaven will undo its will for your sake.”
Of course, you know by Heaven they mean God. You know how the Jews are, they are afraid to say "God" in case that is taking His name in vain. God bless ’em!
A large part of the problem is that existence is not as linear and flat and “Yes or No” as we think it is. As C. S. Lewis wrote, “it all seems planless to the darkened mind, but that's because it is ALL plan” (Perelandra). When the picture is too big for us to see, and it usually is, existence and the events and things that fill time are too much for us, yet we pray to move mountains, and that is really some mountain!
For me, it boils down to this. Prayer, like most divine things, is a mystery. It's not ours to understand it, but ours to do it, not looking for mechanical results, but accepting that it is necessary only because God commands us to do it. When Christ says, “it will be done for you,” He isn't promising that it will look the way you expected, but also, He doesn't want us to cynically ‘spiritualize it’ in our philosophical way, like the fox who couldn't reach the grapes calling them sour, and say, “Well, He answered my prayer, I just don't know how,” and then pretend to believe it. All these humanistic workarounds to try to justify God to our intellects are just a waste of time.
Prayer is a commandment and a mystery, just like everything else that has to do with, not only God but, existence.
“The Being” (Greek > Ο Ων, Ηο Ón) has had a contraction within Himself, making room for us to be, like a woman's body makes room in her womb for the embryo, then for the baby. Neither we nor the unborn baby know what's going on. We just exist, not even knowing that we exist, until God says it's time for us to be born for real.
And when that happens, intellect, watch out!