What do I really believe about prayer?
Here are a few statements that I believe to be 100% true. They may not appear to make any sense together; therein lies my struggle:
We live in a fallen, imperfect world.
God is sovereign and preeminent throughout time.
God is good.
Not everything that happens is the perfect will of God, but He will work all things for the good of the faithful.
Prayer is necessary to the Christian walk and we hold the power of life and death in our mouths.
We should pray according to the will of God.
Can you see where I might struggle with this issue?
Do you know if you are a Calvinist or an Arminianist (I know, Mommies aren’t supposed to talk like that)? I’m proudly proclaiming that I am neither. I have spent a great deal of time and energy exploring both, but about a year ago a man made a statement that changed my spiritual life:
“If your view of Jesus is big enough, there is no difference between Calvinism and Arminianism,” he claimed.
“Ummm…what?” I responded.
The point [I eventually realized] he was making, is that some of us see Jesus as the Alpha. Others see Him as the Omega. Still others see Him as the Alpha and the Omega (which is closer). But we ought [as he claimed] to see Him as the Alpha through the Omega.
Does that make sense?
Jesus certainly isn’t just at the beginning of time looking down a long stretch and choosing who will live, who will die, who will follow, and who will not. But He’s also not just at the end looking back on everything we prayed, everything we did, and everything we desired. He’s in the beginning. He’s at the end. And He’s on, in, and through every single second of the timeline in between.
Serious goose bump moment?!
Do I believe we can change God’s mind by praying? Not necessarily. But I do believe we can change the outcome of any particular situation by praying on the side of God’s will. This is such a huge mystery, and I’m no theologian, but I know there is a constant battle in the heavenlies and that our prayers are needed in the war.
I believe that God created us, and this entire universe, with perfection in mind. But He also created us with a free will so that we could fully choose Him (or not). I do not believe (or see any evidence to support) we are living in a universe that reflects the perfect will of God.
Now please don’t think I am saying that any of this is taking God by surprise. Considering His preeminence, that would be absolutely impossible. God is never surprised, but I think He’s often saddened.
The best example I can give is from the Old Testament. Clearly, God did not want to grant Israel a king. He didn’t have to give in to their whining (we can’t force God), but I think it’s important to note that He chose their will over what He knew was best for them. He allowed Samuel to appoint Saul as king over Israel.
Even more interesting to me is what ultimately happened to Saul’s kingdom. It certainly appears that the Lord intended to permanently establish Saul’s kingdom over Israel. It seems that a perfect God has humbled Himself to work in, with, and through a very imperfect people. And it also seems, to me, that God has back-up plans.
Does that sound disrespectful? I hope not! What I mean is that God has a plan and a plan and a plan. This is why no matter how many times we goof, we can just never surprise or derail Him. And ultimately, which is not the same as in the every day, He will absolutely see His perfect will accomplished.
Satan will be defeated.
Sin, pain, and death will be no more.
In the meantime, I think we just keep on asking. It’s important that we pray His will, but there are some things (like salvation for the lost) that simply cannot fall outside of His perfect plan. And we can boldly ask Him for those things!
What happens when we still don’t see the answer we were so sure we had the right, even the godly obligation, to storm heaven for?
I don’t know.
I really don’t know.
But I do know who God is. And I do know that I have no other choice but to trust and follow Him.
You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.