Beliefs about God can lead to many tuning out God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our understanding of God. I suggest HERE how we can decide what God is really like. One’s interpretation of a Book may be the only reason to think human and godly perfection are different. Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others?
God can’t be a controlling lover.
Controlling love is an oxymoron. Besides, not even an all-powerful God can give us free will and not give us free will at the same time. Genuine freedom must involve the right to do as much harm in proportion to how much good one can do. It isn’t that God has the power to do something and doesn’t. It’s that God can’t. God can’t control evil here on earth if God respects freedom.
Is God to blame for suffering?
A good God surely doesn’t cause or want us to suffer. Praying doesn’t make God more caring. God is already doing all they can in a free world. Jesus’ prayer to avoid the Cross may be the best model in times of suffering. Jesus asked God to intervene but God if you are unable please stay close to me. Pretending God can simply heal without accounting for freedom can makes one’s suffering worse. Why did God heal them and not me? Did I not pray enough? Did I not beg enough? Did I not behave enough or have the right attitude? It isn’t that we didn’t pray enough with the right words and behaviors so God will answer. God is already doing all God can.
Why bother to even pray then?
Maybe prayer is more talking and sharing with God then asking for things and for God to override freedom. Maybe prayer is meant to help us not feel alone in a chaotic world. Prayer is more talking to gain support than manipulating for gain. God is always available to talk about anything on our heart, but we best leave running the universe to a loving God who has the interest of all in mind.
Don’t miracles prove God can control what God wants?
One must admit miracles aren’t that frequent. The Old Testament reveals amazing miracles don’t always lead to inspired living. Jesus’ miracles turned heads but Jesus’ suffering turned hearts of billions of followers. We can pray for others but God is already doing all they can. Are we? Miracles can happen as many can attest to, but miracles don’t happen because people grovel at the feet of an arbitrary God who has to be begged to love more. Miracles happen when God’s uncontrolling love aligns with countless factors known and not known.
Prayer is not a substitute for action.
It is easier sometimes to pray for someone than take supportive actions which is the most common way that God answers prayers. Rather than praying your friend’s spouse stop drinking, which is harming their family, see if your friend would rather you say something to their spouse. When you know two friends are in conflict, speak to the one wrongly denying any wrongdoing. God always desire our permission to use our lives to help others.
The Bible says you can ask for anything you want in God’s name!
Our interpretations much account for what a loving, uncontrolling God can do. Passages such as Mathew 7:7 are lifted out of context to support the false prosperity gospel: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Isn’t this passage in context simply saying that if we parents give good gifts despite our imperfections, will not God as our perfect Parent always give good gifts. First-century readers didn’t assume this was a blank check for any request. The Apostle Paul expects followers would face persecution for their beliefs (2 Tim. 3:12), thus God obviously is not a blank check.
How can we pray?
We might replace the word “praying” in the Bible with “talking.” We can talk to God for many reasons including pursuing a closer relationship with our Creator to be more like God, for self-examination, for sharing our concerns, and not feeling alone in a chaotic world. We tell our children associating with the right people leads to making wiser choices. Maybe prayer is to motivate us to be more loving like God toward others. God is not a Genie in a bottle who can singlehandedly all by themselves make things instantly happen. God is surely doing all they can to influence for good and seeks our help to change the world for good.
See Mark Karris, Divine Echoes: Reconciling Prayer With the Uncontrolling Love Of God
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