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What Puzzles me Most about God's Ways - Prayer

Updated on March 28, 2013

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.

Without ceasing?

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.

Comments - Am I alone in this?

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    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 4 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, Techicated, for your response. Indeed we pray, but pray humbly knowing that the Lord knows best how to answer our heart's longings. You seem to have grasped that. Appreciate your input.

    • Techicated profile image

      Kathryn Kutny 4 years ago from New York State

      I like praying for others. When I know I can't do anything to help someone and it's totally out of my hands, I give it to God. For example. If someone is very sick and I can't heal them. I pray to God, he will. God will not always heal people, but sometimes he does! I asked God to heal me one time and I felt a warmth around me and I started getting better quickly. And I strongly believe it was God, who healed me.

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 6 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Since writing this hub I've come across a website that has really enriched my prayer life. Just reading Scotty Smiths prayers primes my own "prayer pump." Check it out!

    • MickeySr profile image

      MickeySr 6 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      When we pray we are participating in what God is doing. It's not about getting things we want, nor is it about changing God's mind about things - God is going to do what He has from all eternity determined to do, when we pray we are entering into fellowship with God as He does what He has from all eternity determined to do.

      If I must choose one job offer over another, if my child is ill, if I need rain for my crops, etc, what is going to transpire in all those circumstances is what God has planned and prepared to transpire according to His plan and His purpose . . . and the point isn't will I choose the right job, will my child be restored to good health, will I enjoy a bountiful harvest, etc - the point is that Jesus is glorified.

      Now, if I choose the right job, if my child is restored to good health, if my harvest is plentiful, etc, and I was not praying, then I chose the right job, my child is restored to good health, my harvest is plentiful, etc - but if I have been praying, then I chose the right job, my child is restored to good health, my harvest is plentiful, etc, and I am blessed seeing God's work and knowing He has drawn me unto Himself and has made me, and my prayers, a part of His eternal plan.

      When we pray we are participating in what God is doing. It's not about getting things we want, nor is it about changing God's mind about things - God is going to do what He has from all eternity determined to do, when we pray we are entering into fellowship with God as He does what He has from all eternity determined to do.

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 6 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, Klandra, you make a good point about how prayer is primarily a relational issue and comparing it to communication in a marriage. So when we say that prayer works, it wouldn't be so much a matter of getting things from God, as feeling that one has connected with Him? That's cool!

    • KiandraRutledge profile image

      KiandraRutledge 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      I think when we say pray, we automatically think about petitioning. But prayer can also include praise and thanksgiving. God likes to hear our expressions of love toward him even he knows he loves us, more so like a married couple would like to their mate say "I love you" no just in deeds, but in words also. The bible is God's way of speaking to us, and our prayers are our way of speaking to Him. When both parties communicate, you have a solid relationship.

    • lone77star profile image

      Rod Martin Jr 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Liftandsoar, outstanding Hub. Beautiful writing. Witty, engaging and thought-provoking. Left me warm and tingly all over. Thank you!

      I have learned some new things with your insights. Heck, I'm still just a youngster of 61, thought a little crotchety at times.

      Thanking our Lord for everything is what I strive to do, even the not-so-nice things -- the challenges, the pain and suffering. With our gratitude, our cup overflows. With our gratitude, our cheek is being turned and it softens the razor of "fate."

      I had never thought of prayer as a way of giving thanks, but that's perfect. Beautiful!

      But, for me, prayer is also about learning to find the right state of beingness, for when that state is found, prayer elicits instantaneous results, just as they did for Jesus and his more adept disciples. Just as they did for Moses and Aaron.

      Take another look at Genesis 1:26. God is not Homo sapiens, and all children look like their parents. Genesis 2:7 talks of the creation of Homo sapiens, so we have a dual nature -- immortal spirit wrapped in Homo sapiens flesh.

      The forbidden fruit? This was no physical plant material. Just as the Kabbalah's "Tree of Life" is a conceptual matrix, the Tree of Knowledge is a conceptual matrix of earthly opposites, the most obvious one being mentioned in Genesis -- good-evil. The poison of this fruit is ego -- self-importance, and this is the self we must deny in order to gain everlasting life. Just saying this, I can taste the sweet gentleness of our Lord's comforting hand.

      I hope this helps. Your hub has certainly helped me. Thank you! And may the Heavenly Father bless us all.

    • Timothy Donnelly profile image

      Timothy Donnelly 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      God wants people to pray so that WE do not forget HIM amidst all the various goings on in our lives. All of life’s events - whether joyous or sad; all of life’s trials - with reward or grief; all of life’s pomp and circumstance - and associated leisure or drudgery, create many moments of temptation to wander from the faith we have in our Lord Jesus Christ, who truly wants the best for us, both temporally and eternally. Many blessings are offered us, and a CURRENT “relationship” with Him (through prayer and repentance) is the means by which He has committed to providing us His good grace.

      • Genesis 21:17

      “And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.”

      • Galatians 4:9

      “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?”

      • Deuteronomy 4:30

      “When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;”

      • Hosea 12:6

      “Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.”

      • Acts 26:20

      “But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judæa, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.”

      • 2 Chronicles 15:4

      “But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.”

      • Psalms 66:20

      “Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.”

      • Acts 15:19

      “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:”

      Peace and Good Tidings.

    • joejagodensky profile image

      joejagodensky 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Prayer is not so much about God talking or informing us but our adoration and praise to Him. It is the creature thanking the Creator. Thanks for the good reflection.

    • Ty Gillis profile image

      Ty Gillis 6 years ago from Palm Bay, Florida

      Wow, that is a ton of questions. To make this short, I have studied these questions and have written about them, with pretaining Bible verses. Because let's face it, the Bible is "The" authority.

      That's the first out of 5 Chapters.