Friday, February 27, 2009

What do I ask for when I pray?

I was asked this question and was dumbfounded. I don't ask for anything when I pray. "Pray for her in her time of need" is another question along the same lines as the first.

It makes me ask: What is the purpose of prayer? Is prayer for the purpose of acquiring something for nothing? Have we indulged our "I want" attitude so much that prayer has become something of a wish list? It's no wonder people get so disheartened when "God does not answer my prayer". Have you found yourself berating God for his inattention?

Perhaps the problem is in the perspective. Fundamentally, we see God as a providing father who listens to everything we ask. We know this to be true because one time, we got what we prayed for. We accept that God has a bigger picture of the situation when God takes his time answering our prayer request.

If we change our perspective and see God as our creator and the creator of all things around us, then our understanding of prayer changes. Our responsibility is to glorify God and gratefully praise him for his creation. The success of our wants is based on probability, not divine intervention.

What, then, is the purpose of prayer? How should we pray? The lord's prayer starts out with "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name." The underlying message to this statement is: "Oh great God, I praise you and look up to you." Such a statement is one of a grateful creature to their creator. Is that a valid perspective we are asked to embraced?

If our responsibility to our God is to realize God is supreme and our creator, then it follows that our perspective should be one of a grateful person. I find myself so grateful for what is already around me, I would be recalcitrant to belittle the almighty by asking for more or different.

I recall, growing up listening to a hymn. It encapsulates this thought:

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies;
For the love which from our birth,
Over and around us lies;
Lord of all to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.


originally published: 27 FEB 2009

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