Tuesday, May 03, 2005

What is prayer?

Interesting discussion sprung up today about the difference between magic-trying to manipulate God/Spirit/the gods into doing what you want, and true faith-which thecturer said was simply submitting yourself to God. Thay seems pretty counter-cultural-which it is, but thats Jesus for you sometimes hey.

The lecturer was talking about trying to manipulate God, making deals, brokering and doing certain things so that God will do what you want. unfortunately I tthink we've all been guilty of that at some stage.

But that got me thinking-isn't everytime we request something of God trying to manipulate Him/Her? I mean if we really believe that prayer works, that means we must believe in a God that can be swayed by our prayers, a God who's mind changes? I personally have no problem with this, but a few people I've talked to really struggle with this image of God.

If we really believe that God is all-knowing (an interesting topic I can't properly unpack on a blog) then does it really matter if we pray? If he already knows whats on our hearts-which I think it says somewhere in the Bible, why do we need to ask? If God already wants relationship with all of Creation-why do we need to ask God to work in people's lives?

If we believe-as I do, that it is only ever God who changes and transforms people's lives-why do we need to run programs, put on events, spend time with people etc? I would say it is because God needs His human representatives to work through, but its still an interesting question.

Very raw thoughts at the moment, just unpacking a lot of stuff, doesn't make much sense to me at the moment-so hope you can follow!

7 comments:

dan said...

As you have rightly pointed out, our idea and understanding of prayer reveals and is influenced a great deal by our theology of who God is and what his role in the world is.

Digger said...

Yeah I think I'll retitle that one 'The nature of God' and put some more thought into what prayer actually is.

Anonymous said...

I think a large aspect of pray is the relationship with God. written a number of essays on the importance of communication in relationships and isn't that what pray is- or is that just my interpretaion?
So as much as God may know whats on our heart (something I think he knows but we often fail to) us telling/asking him what God already knows is part if developing that rel.

Brian Sage said...

If we really believe that God is all-knowing then does it really matter if we pray? If he already knows whats on our hearts-which I think it says somewhere in the Bible, why do we need to ask? (Your quote No Diggity)
The word prayer literally means "a projected wish." If we consciously search for and speak the real deep feelings on our hearts (our father's nature - the spirit)then we speak into reality those yearnings from heaven. If there is no speaking, IN OUR OWN WORDS from that level, then nothing can happen. God may just as well be dead. It's an utter waste of time talking to something "up in the sky" from our heads using standard religious phrases. Have you noticed that? We have to get truthful and we do that from our hearts. Then see what happens!

Digger said...

You've got some interesting thoughts there Brian-not all of which I follow.

So are you saying that you would adhere more to the understanding of prayer as seeking that which is of God within all of us-rather than putting up requests to a supernatural deity?

Brian Sage said...

Digger, we obviously must connect with a supernatural deity (the spirit of our true Father) for our requests to have any effect. The question that we all struggle with is how do we make that contact so that it actually works? Considering the immense amount of time and energy that is put into various forms of prayer the results are nothing but dismal. We are obviously doing something very wrong on our part as we are promised far better success than that. Projecting our requests up into the sky with the name of Jesus tacked on the end of our rant may be good in theory but it doesn’t work in practice. This is what I suggest you try. Here’s the practical approach but first look very briefly at some of the background logic – for what it’s worth!

The only reason we believe a supernatural deity lives “up there” is because tradition has told us and everyone accepts that as being true but I have my doubts. God is a spirit and the dwelling place is heaven and the word for “heaven” means: to be elevated, happiness, eternity. It’s more of a state of feeling, or atmosphere, rather than a particular place. Okay, now the name of Jesus to give our prayers the correct authenticity. In practice the “name” really means the “nature” of Jesus, which is quite a different thing all together. We find his “nature” through his spirit indwelling our hearts. We’ve been regenerated haven’t we and we purify our hearts by faith. So connecting with those deeper feelings – somewhere in our stomach area – and then turning those feelings into words - who then is it that is really speaking? And wouldn’t our Father answer that?! Besides we are making requests “according His nature.” Give it a try and you’ll be amazed. You’ll feel when you are making contact and it’s all very natural. Kick back in your chair and chat away. You can then ask Him all you want to know about prayer and scripture will confirm it for you.

Simon said...

Digger - I agree with you that (i) prayer works and that (ii) God can be swayed by our prayers. Take the passage in the Bible where Abraham pleads for Sodom (Genesis 18:16-33). In this passage God seems to be swayed by Abraham's "prayer". What is interesting is how Abraham appeals to God's justice and how Abraham acknowledges his own insignificance - "I am nothing but dust and ashes".