That God asks us to pray is, I think, a stroke of genius. I define prayer (following Dallas Willard) as: talking with God about what we are doing together. This raises the question, in my mind: why would God want to collaborate with you and me about anything? That would be like Einstein giving me a call and asking me to work with him on the theory of relativity. At one point in history God asks the prophet Isaiah, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” If I were Isaiah I think I’d respond back to God, “Why not send Yourself?” Wouldn’t that be a whole lot more effective than sending a mere human?
Maybe. Probably. OK - certainly it would. But God doesn’t do it this way. He wants us to co-labor with him. Why? Because God is love. Love requires relationship. God loves us, and is on a mission to develop his character in us. More than just wiping out the dark forces that work against him, God is shaping a people that morph into his own heart.
Once, when one of my sons was very ill, so ill that we wondered about his life, I personally researched his illness, looking for a solution. My son’s doctor was THE neonatal surgeon of mid-Michigan, a brilliant man I respected very much. I met with him once, the fruit of my research in my hands. I presented an idea I had found to him, one which I thought would help resuce my son. He said, “No, that doesn’t apply.” I shared a few more ideas, to which he responded - “No, those aren’t applicable to what’s hurting your boy.” Then I presented another thng I’d found. He paused. He said, “Hmmm, I am interested in that.” And he took the information I found and used it to help save my son’s life. I will eternally thank him for that. I am amazed that such a great surgeon would even listen to me and allow me to help in the process of saving a life. My son is alive and well. I got to be a part of it, and that did a lot for me.
I think God is like that. Yes, maybe he could do it all. But if “doing it all” includes the development of a people that love him and know him, then I think it’s outrageously brilliant that he would incorporate our assistance in the process. He invites us to pray. Prayer is talking with God about what we are doing together. Which is very, very cool.