I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer because I recently found a video on YouTube where this guy compares praying to God with praying to a jug of milk. I can't disagree with this guy's presentation that “yes,” “no,” and “wait” are statistically foolproof. And that would be really sad and shake up my faith if I actually bought into the belief that prayer life can be summed up formulaically with "yes,” “no,” or “wait." There's more to prayer than that, fortunately. It's about having a relationship with God and trusting our lives to Him. It's having a conversation with God; expressing our fears and concerns and wonder. It's about asking for our will but being ok, regardless, with God's will. (Which some say is a cop out, but I have faith that God knows what's best for me. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really fly with someone who doesn't believe that God has their best interests in mind).
So can we have hope that our prayers change things? – Absolutely! I’ve seen it happen time and time again. Very specifically. I know of a family who is adopting a young girl from China and needed to raise $25,000. They received a check for $12,000 from a person for the adoption. That left $13,000. They had a new accountant look over their taxes this year, and he determined they hadn’t been listing their ministries’ expenses correctly. After all was said and done, a check arrived from the IRS for $13,060! Furthermore, this same family had been told that if they didn’t get their paperwork to China by a specific date, that it wouldn’t give them enough time to process everything before the girl turned 14, making her ineligible for adoption. They sent out mass emails to people all over the world asking that we pray that the paperwork would be finished by the specific date. The people in charge of processing the paperwork had told the family that there was absolutely no way that they would be able to finish it by then, that they needed at least an additional two weeks. After praying, the family received a phone call the next day saying they had processed the paperwork THAT NIGHT. How can that be coincidental? Plus, it's documented in the Bible that the prayers of Lot changed God's mind. Can you imagine how powerful praying must be!
It’s a little frustrating that Christians have come up with these cute little answers for deep questions like this. There is more to answered prayer than God telling us “yes,” no,” or “wait.” I'm sure millions are reassured by these thin answers and perhaps many have come to faith because of them. But it doesn't always work to accurately portray the reality of our walk. To boil down the Christian life to a nice and neat formula is to make it seem hokie and made up. The people that are having a hard time grasping why to have faith in an invisible God are the same people who are going to see right through those formulas and deduct that there's nothing real about it. There needs to be mystery to God, but that's erased when we narrow Him down to three or four bullet points that fit on a tract. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have simplified answers for those who need simple. But we need to also have the ability to explain these concepts without being too simple, to allow God to be as big and intricate as His is. If He was actually that simple, people wouldn’t have a problem believing. God is incredibly complex, and our explanations about Him should reflect that. For us to assume that we can explain Him with simple statements is prideful and foolish. Plus I, personally, need to believe He knows MORE about me and this world than I. Otherwise, I could rule the world.
Oh NOOO! The horror! But you see, I don’t and couldn’t rule the world. Not that I’d want to anyway. I believe God controls the world, knows more than me, loves you and me, and will make decisions based on what is actually best for us.
So to the guy who made that video and all those who buy into what he is saying, I will be praying that someone will one day cross your path who can admit that there aren’t always easy answers to trusting God and that they’d have the sense to realize that formulas and cute sayings can’t explain the God of the Universe, nor should they.