I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer. The idea of prayer is one I’ve always sort of struggled with growing up. “If God knows what I’m going to ask for, then why ask for it?” “Praying doesn’t change God, it changes me.” “God, are You even listening?”
I recently read Greg Boyd’s “God of the Possible,” where he explains the idea of open theism. I think I personally had grown up assuming that God knew every detail of what was to come. Open theism suggests that the future is not, in fact “exhaustively settled,” and in that case, God can not and does not know exactly what is to come. Boyd argues that that is what gives prayer its urgency. If God knows everything that is to happen and there’s no way it’s going to change, why pray? But, if the future is at least partially open, then it is nothing less than our duty to pray for God’s hand. Right? Cerebrally, I believe this. Yet my actions give little evidence I do.
My other prayer-hang-up is this: what is appropriate to pray about? My immediate answer is: everything. My careful answer is something closer to…holy things. You know, things that let you feel spiritual and awesome. I certainly think God would rather us pray about everything, but…I feel silly sometimes. Or selfish. I guess we are all guilty of selfish prayers, but sometimes I can’t help but feel weird praying for jobs or other money issues when I am so blessed as it is. I may feel like the ground is falling from beneath me or someone I love, but the truth is that I still make more money than a lot of the world. That makes me feel like maybe I don’t need to pray for a more steady job or a raise.
I heard a lady say one time that when she goes to the mall, she prays for a parking space. That trusting God with the little things helps her trust Him with the big things. In my “enlightened” state, my first reactions to that statement are: Does God even like malls? Does God care where I park? Really, is it to the glory of our creator if I get to park a little closer to the mall? I am inclined to think that maybe…it does not matter in the long run if I have to walk a few more feet.
The truth is I have no idea what the answers to these questions are, and I’m pretty ok with that. I’m inclined to think that it does matter, it must matter, that I pray. If I believe in a God who cares for me, then I must believe that He will listen to me, no matter how insignificant my cares, even if I am not changing His mind, and even if He is, perhaps, not too concerned about them. (I love my best friend, and I will listen to her always, but I am not particularly concerned about what she had for lunch. Catch my drift?) Also, I think you should read Mr. Boyd’s book.