Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pray without ceasing

"Trendy Writer talked about how Khwaja Khandir is his fishing guide. He described Khwaja Khandir as the Islamic version of the Holy Spirit: Khwaja Khandir tells him where to fish and teaches him things about life like how to manage his money or achieve inner peace or please his wife... But as Trendy Writer read from his book that night at Powells, I thought about the Muslim babies dying in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I thought about the economic crisis in Saudi Arabia and the children of Iraq who were being bombed because their ridiculous dictator won't cooperate with the United Nations. And then I thought about Khwaja Khandir, and I wondered what gave Trendy Writer the audacity to assume that Khwaja Khandir would have the time, or the desire, to take him fishing."
~Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

Sometimes I wonder about the thing we pray for. We pray for meals, we pray that the food is blessed, we thank God for providing it. We pray for other people, for health problems, for spiritual problems. We pray because we're told to... and because we believe that prayer does something. That prayer is action, that our prayers can be an intercession before God. That our prayers matter to God, and that he hears them, and that he answers them.

And then I think about what Donald Miller says about prayer, about Trendy Writer, and the audacity of assuming that God - by whatever name you call him - could possibly care about fishing when there are so many more important things in the world. But that's looking at it from the wrong side, I think. God does care about our prayers, no matter how petty or simple they may be. God cares what we pray, and he hears every prayer. It's not like God ignores the unimportant prayers... he doesn't have to, he isn't limited by time, our prayers are not competing for God's attention, because he can give all of them His full attention.

That's all nice to think about, but it's the implications that really interest me.
If God hears and answers all human prayers - and I believe he does - that means that we're the ones who decide what prayers God hears and answers. Just... wow. We decide what we think is important enough to place before God in prayer. We decide. It is our time that is limited, issues compete for our time, not for God's time. And our time - unlike God's - is finite. There are only so many things we can pray for. And I think that there are more things that need prayer than there are things that receive the prayer they need. Look at the world. There's so much wrong... so many things that aren't as they should be. And we - we have intercessory access to the ear of God. No wonder we're told to pray without ceasing... we have so many things to pray for, so many things that can be made better because we pray.

God does care and God does listen when I pray for help on my math test. The question isn't whether or not God is listening. The question is whether or not my time would be better spent giving God something more important to listen to.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for giving me a Vegas-style buffet tray of thought. I need to sit down and digest it at some point soon.