My first reaction when I saw the following headline on the cover of New York Daily wasn’t outrage (though admittedly, I was surprised) or indignation. The first thought that popped into my head was, Well, maybe this is because many of us have an inaccurate understanding of prayer.
Which isn’t to say that my view is the correct one. But I have a few theories. So far, no Christian I’ve spoken to has been able to answer these questions for me:
If God already has a will, is prayer supposed to change his mind?
Why are we praying for God’s Will to happen if God’s Will will happen regardless?
If God waits on prayer before allowing (or not allowing) certain events to happen, wouldn’t that mean he doesn’t know the future?
My lived experience has taught me (and other notable theologians like CS Lewis and Soren Kieerkegard) that prayer is more about becoming like God and communing with him as opposed to changing our circumstances. I can’t imagine an Almighty God bending time and space (and occasionally laws of nature) to ensure someone gets an up-close parking spot or healing from the flu while scores of people all over the world are suffering inexplicable violence and depravation, but I can imagine God providing the tools with which to make change happen.
Naturally, not all of us agree on the same tools with which to do this, which is why we find ourselves stuck when it comes to gun control. Of course, my biggest question is why God couldn’t answer prayers to prevent shootings from happening in the first place, rather than answering the prayers asking for comfort to the families of the dead. But what would mere humans know about that?
Do you agree or disagree? Why do you pray?