Saturday, July 09, 2016

If God Already Knows What We're Going to Ask, Then Why Ask?

Deer in a field, Dixon Road
Prayer is: talking with God about what we (God and moi) are doing together. Philip Yancey writes:

"Jesus counted on prayer as a source of strength that equipped him to carry out a partnership with God the Father on earth." (Yancey, Prayer, Kindle Locations 1078-1079)

God's invitation to pray is an invitation to partnership. A different kind of partnership. God is an all-knowing Mind who foreknows what we're going to say before the spark of neural connection ignites. So why pray if God already knows what we're going to ask or say? C.S. Lewis once wrote an essay about this called "Petitionary Prayer: A Problem Without an Answer." (In Lewis, Christian Reflections)

Yancey writes:

"In a telling comment Jesus also said, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” He could not mean that prayer is unnecessary, for his own life belied that. He could only mean that we need not strive to convince God to care; the Father already cares, more than we can know. Prayer is not a matter of giving God new information. Instead of presenting requests as if God may not know them, it might be more appropriate to say, “God, you know I need this!”" (Yancey, Prayer, Kindle Locations 1081-1085)

Perhaps it's like a loving parent who already knows what their toddler is going to say, but allows them to say it anyway for the sake of building relationship and leadership.

My new book is Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.