Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Prayer As Petitioning God

"The Bible says to pray" and "prayer brings us closer to God", These seem to be the most popular answers to why people pray. And they are right, the Bible does say to pray... Or at least there are some people in the bible who are recorded as requesting, urging, commanding, and teaching people to pray. However, prayer being a mechanism that brings us closer to God doesn't seem to be as clearly presented in the Bible.

However, I will post about prayer functioning as something that brings us closer to God, but today is all about petitioning which seems to be the way Jesus spoke of prayer the most, and the "function" that people seem to be the most uneasy about. I don't think I've seen anyone answer that prayer is to ask God for things.

But It seems that when specific prayers are mentioned or recorded in the Bible, the prayers are functioning more as petitions to God than anything else. Especially when it comes to Jesus' teachings on prayer.

In Luke, When Jesus speaks on how one should pray, he uses phrases and instructions such as, "ask and it will be given unto you, seek and you will find, and knock and the door will be opened unto you. For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

In these examples there seems to be some sort of formula, if you do "A" and "B" then God will do "C". Also in Luke, Jesus seems to say that if you are persistent in your praying then God will give you what you ask, he goes on to say that the heavenly Father will give good gifts to those who asks Him. Or earlier in Matthew Jesus says that if you keep your prayers short and to the point and pray in secret, then God will reward you.

But how many of us actually know this to be true? If we are honest, then we have to say that God doesn't always give us what we ask, no matter how persistent, how secretive, or how sincere we are. And of course, as Garth Brooks taught us, unanswered prayers are some of God's greatest gifts, and that may be true, but I am not merely referring to the selfish prayers that all of us are sometimes guilty of.

I am referring more to those situations we all know about when people all over the world are praying and nothing seems to happen. The baby dies anyway, the mom doesn't get the job to support her family, the cancer ends up spreading, and the list could go on and on. Then there are those moments when everything works out and not a known prayer was muttered.

Those are the moments I question most, "Why pray?"

When it comes to these types of situations, it seems that God is going to do whatever God wants to do whether people are praying or not... So why ask? Why seek? And why knock?

And what do we make of all these teachings that Jesus gives about asking, seeking, and knocking?


Obviously there is a lot more to say about prayer, the intent here is to merely ask the questions and spark conversations. So your voice on the matter is greatly encouraged.

1 comment:

GailNHB said...

I really don't know what to make of the instructions Jesus gives us - except to think that I must be missing something in the translation. because i've been in lots of groups where we have asked and knocked and sought, but what we asked for, knocked about, and looked for didn't show up as we expected. so we are clearly missing something.

great questions. tough to answer.