What Puzzles me Most about God's Ways - Prayer
Why? Why? Why?
Why pray? God is omniscient so I don't expect to inform Him of anything. God is all powerful so my prayer doesn't help Him do anything. He is all wise, so why would I want to persuade Him to do anything He doesn't already have in the works?
Then there are all the ways I've seen people do it. Does prayer work best when offered on site where action is needed, as in prayer walks? How about if I pray exactly at the time of the surgery? Will my friend be more likely to be healed? Does it make any difference how many people are praying for the same thing? When I promise to pray for someone, does one prayer fulfill the promise or do I need to pray repeatedly? For how long? Some encourage PUSH: Pray Until Something Happens. How do I know when something has happened? Is praying in tongues more effective than praying in my own tongue? When do I start praying that the Lord provide? Not 'till I'm penniless? Or when my savings account hits the critical level? What's the critical level? Pray the promises? God promised Elijah that He would stop the rain if he prayed. Zat mean I could have prayed Irene away? What about answers to prayer? I can never be certain that a blessing enjoyed was due to my particular petition.
Those questions linger even after a lifetime (well. I'm only 72) of praying, studying prayer, teaching prayer and leading in prayer.
Of this I'm certain
The Scriptures teach that I should pray.There's the prayer taught by Jesus, not to mention his example of prayer. There are direct instructions such as "pray without ceasing." I Thessalonians 5:17. There are more detailed instructions such as James 5:13-18. There are examples of private prayer and of group prayer. But I don't find anything in Scripture about why it's necessary.
Prayer and the forbidden tree
God forbade Adam and Eve from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He attached the threat of death for disobeying him. But he gave no reason for the prohibition. It was as though God deliberately put something out there by which to test their loyalty. Well, that's exactly what He was up to. Have you never left money sitting around to test your kid's integrity?
Might prayer be a positive version of the forbidden tree? Instead of a prohibition, you have a clear command. But no reason for it is offered. In fact, given what else the Scriptures tell us about God, prayer seems totally unnecessary. Yet the Scriptures insist, "Pray!"
So I'll pray carefully
If God wants me to pray, I will. But I'll take care not to think I'm striking a bargain with him. My prayer will be more an expression of my dependence on Him and thankfulness to Him than a list of complaints needing his attention or an order expecting to be filled. I'll also seek his mercy for my failure to pray. See, I've wanted all this puzzlement to be satisfied before I prayed. Not a good idea. Finally, I'll ask the Lord himself to prompt me regarding what to pray for and for how long.
I think that's one thing I do understand, 'cause when my mind isn't otherwise occupied it reverts to chatting up the Lord. For challenges I'm always reminding him that I need him at my side. For my kids? That too, Lord. I'm at my wits end. When things are going swimmingly? Need to work on thanking Him more. Maybe that would help get over being a morose crotchety old man.