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Archive for September, 2012

Can Praying Be Relaxing?

I am convinced God wants us to relax about praying and not feel guilt ridden all the time. Praying doesn’t earn me more of God’s affection; He already loves me unconditionally. Praying can draw me closer to God which is empowering.  Praying builds a relationship with God that doesn’t rid us of all sin but changes our attitude toward it. Hanging with God gives us more of a fighting chance in shaping and changing our desires and priorities for the good. Praying is more about communicating for support than manipulating for gain.

We really don’t have to tell God how to run the world and our lives. We can pray to God for healing and God may intervene, but if we are truthful God doesn’t intervene miraculously most of the time. Jesus ceased with miracles all together because they did not accomplish nearly what His suffering did. If you are praying for God to help you accept His decisions how to best run the world and when to miraculously interfere with suffering, if you are praying for God to be with you in the storms of life, if you are praying to God for wisdom in being with others that want His help, well then you might find praying more meaningful.

When Paul said to pray unceasingly, he surely meant to talk to God every opportunity you have. You can’t pray while sleeping or talking to others. You can’t always get on your knees or have to. You can talk to God while driving, running, whenever. God won’t quit doing His job if you are busy and don’t talk to Him for a while. You will though benefit talking with God as often as you can.

Praying is having a conversation with God anytime anywhere. God won’t forget your list of people if you don’t recite them all the time.  Keeping a list of those who have asked me to pray for them is more for me than God. God probably wishes sometimes I would quit praying and go be the answer to my prayers. God knows my individual needs. I don’t even have to say them out loud to him. God has my back! Sometimes though, it is comforting to share with God my struggles over and over and over.

Praying is not manipulating but giving God permission in our lives to accomplish His will for us. God doesn’t force Himself on us. Who doesn’t enjoy having a friend around all the time that loves us unconditional, that will listen and be available whenever I want to talk, that will enlighten me with wisdom that no one else really has based on their lack of experience in creating the world and humans. You cannot have a more dependable Friend.

Thank God He does not answer all my prayers. I pray to avoid pain and problems. When I have no problems, I sometimes don’t even think about God much less depend on Him. I am not the kind of parent God is. I will go to great lengths for my kids to avoid problems or experience pain. That is not always acting in their best interest. You don’t have to enjoy suffering, but sometimes suffering is the only way to influence others. Jesus prayed to avoid the suffering of the Cross, but He also knew God had His and the world’s best interest in mind. God did not answer Jesus’ prayer.

I learned recently the parable of the persistent widow isn’t about nagging God to death, so He will finally answer our prayers. [Luke 18:1-8] If an unjust judge will finally hear and answer your request after constant badgering, won’t our righteous Creator hear our request the first time? The answer may not be always what we want to hear but God always listens, cares, and always has our best interest in the long run. God does not have to be worn down by persistent begging.

Praying doesn’t work if you are always trying to avoid problems and suffering. Praying doesn’t work if you think you know how to better run the world than God. When prayers aren’t answered, do you really think God isn’t listening or doesn’t care? I don’t suggest praying to God what He needs to do. Pray “God, you know my desires but not my will but Your will; I know You have my and the world’s best interest at heart.”

Is It Coincidental or God?

I know many will not be happy with what I say. Some may even accuse me of suggesting God is uninvolved or even disinterested in our lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. God just may not work in our lives as we think He does.  I have suggested this viewpoint because I don’t like the bad rap God gets with the idea that God controls everything. Also, I wish to be intellectually honest about freedom.

I don’t like the reputation God gains by suggesting He controls the day we die. This would mean God is responsible for a drunk driver killing another driver. God is not the cause of evil that leads to so much suffering and death on this earth.  Now, the future is not totally unpredictable for humans much less God. For example, if a skilled physician can predict the death of a seemingly healthy individual because he perceives symptoms that escape the untrained eye, how much more so our Creator. God is present everywhere and His knowledge is unimaginably extensive.

God has always been a tremendous respecter of freedom. God doesn’t cause bad things to happen to us, so logically I must accept God doesn’t always cause good things to happen to us. From the very beginning God gave us the freedom to love or hate Him. God can be accused of allowing bad things to happen because He created freedom, but God is neither the creator nor initiator of evil that results from misguided desires. We certainly can pray to God for healing and God may intervene, but if we are truthful God doesn’t intervene miraculously most of the time. Jesus ceased with miracles all together because they did not accomplish nearly what His suffering did.

Did God really give us the parking space when we were desperate? What about others who needed the space as well and maybe more than you needed? Did God really give us the job? What about all the others who prayed for the same job and maybe needed the job more financially? We can give thanks to God in all things, but sometimes our words may alienate others from God unintentionally.  We may innocently say “by the grace of God He spared my or their life.” What does this say about all the other people not spared on 9/11? Does God love less those not spared?

I am not always fond of the saying “God helps those who help themselves,” but sometimes our theology leads to passivity. If we think God is the cause of all things and a controller, we may be tempted to sit back and wait for Him to act. We may be waiting on a sign from God. We may need to get off our knees and go help the person we are praying for. With decision-making God doesn’t demand only certain paths to follow as human parents may. We are free to use our gifts and decide where we think we can make the greatest contribution in our current circumstances.  Many “Godly” paths can be chosen while still remaining entirely within God’s will. You just can’t go wrong with a desire to love God.

So, is God not active in our lives on a daily basis?  Not at all! God is impacting the world one changed life at a time; God is intervening daily. I am a better man for God being in my life than not. I dread to think how I would really treat others without God’s influence. God is always encouraging us to flee from sin and exhorting us to take a stand for evil. Why are we waiting on God? Hypocritically, we demand God stop evil but we do nothing ourselves to stop the evil of others. Blessings aren’t always coincidental by from God through others. God can do a lot of good in our world if we will just let Him.

One might accept that my thoughts are at least more consistent with freedom and give God less of a bad rap with others. How then does one live their life?  God sometimes intervenes directly but if we are honest, the miraculous is not the norm in most situations. Petition God for the miraculous, but don’t assume we know best how to run a free world.  Use prayer as a form of communication than manipulation. It isn’t best God always answer my prayers. When something bad happens, you don’t have to blame God or wonder why He doesn’t love you. When something good happens, you may be internally grateful but not discouraging toward others why God isn’t active in their life.

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