More problems, pray tell?
We truly are in a battle for the soul of the nation, just not in the sense that our president means it. We are in an ever-escalating spiritual war battling the enemy of our souls, the father of lies, not “MAGA Republicans.” If “devout Catholic” Joe Biden really knew his God, he would not be promoting ungodly and immoral practices but instead would encourage turning to God for help in restoring our country to greatness and goodness. He would, and could, unite us by promoting the practice of petitioning God for his protection and provision through prayer.
But as I began with my previous post, the practice of prayer is not without its problems. I continue…
Is there a critical mass?
I am one of many thousands, I’m sure, praying for our country on a regular basis, and I’m confident God is at work in response to our prayers. But what if I was the only one? Would his response be the same? I struggle with understanding the rationale behind asking others to pray for something I am already praying for. Surely “where two or three are gathered” doesn’t mean two or three or more are necessary before God will consider a prayer.
When the apostle Paul asked the Colossians to pray for God to “open to us a door for the word,” I think it’s safe to say he was also praying for that himself. If God would not grant Paul’s request unless echoed by a cadre of other prayers, what would that mean for a lowly disciple like myself?
Here’s the best I can do right now at understanding the question of numbers: God does answer single supplicant prayers but perhaps granting a request made to him by a multitude, because it blesses more people, delights his heart more and moves his hand more readily. It’s (sort of) like the difference between only one of your young children asking to watch a favorite film after dinner and all four of them pleading with you for the privilege. You might allow the one and he’d have a fun evening, but if all of them ask then it’s a family movie night, everybody’s happy, and potentially life-shaping memories are made. Those benefits make the difference.
Pre-planned, pre-written prayers
I facetiously suggested last time assigning numbers to needs or requests I regularly bring before God so as not to have to repeat the same thing every time. Though God may not look favorably on this very impersonal practice, I don’t believe he’d object to a different solution to the problem of repetition: reading the request.
If a prayer is very personal – something regarding my children, for instance – the expression of my request comes more easily and naturally. If it’s less personal it’s also less instinctive and spontaneous. And even if it’s something I pray for regularly I still often struggle in the expression of it. What if, I wonder, I write down the prayer, as heartfelt yet succinctly as I can, and read it to God as I pray? They are my words from my heart – so what if they were previously combined just so in the past and not poured out spontaneously in the present?
And if I’m in a hurry I can just lift up the paper on which it’s written as an offering. Or point to it. Not really.
But what if I’m asked to pray for someone I don’t know and for whom I care about on a merely obligatory level? That’s a problem I’ll take up next.