Specifically, the questions have been about the effectiveness of prayer… what does it accomplish, what, if anything, does it change?
Interestingly enough, I have been asked to do this before and I always kind of “balked.”
The closest I have ever come before was to create a compilation of passages about prayer, without offering my own thoughts.
However, I have found so many other Jesus followers who have these same questions about prayer, that I want to talk about them. I am honestly not even sure where the conversation will go, but I want to try.
Jesus sent his earliest followers out in two’s, and told us that when two or three are gathered in His Name, He is there… so I want to prayerfully and honestly talk about especially these aspects of prayer. Together, in His Name, maybe we, or at least I, can come to a new understanding.
First, I will tell you why I think it is that I have balked.
I honestly struggle with prayer in a way that feels unique to me, but probably isn’t.
See… for me, Christianity makes sense.
I don’t have time to go into it here, but to me, the path to Christianity is well marked with reason, logic, sense, and evidence. If there is a God, then the revelation of Christianity MUST be the accurate understanding of His opinion of things. Either the basic claims of The Holy Bible are accurate or we are well and truly alone as little (or nothing more) than complex biological entities like ocean sponges that consume, poop and reproduce. The second choice requires too much faith in chance for me.
So, little of what people would call “blind” faith is required for me to be a Jesus follower.
To quickly clarify, as William Lane Craig (http://www.reasonablefaith.org) might encourage, imagine that a person fleeing destruction was racing along a path. Suddenly the path forks. The person is certain that one path leads back to death, but the other leads to salvation… but he/she cannot remember which does which. If there are no signs as to which path leads away from doom, the person still must choose.
The instant they choose, they have put their faith in that path to save them. Faith is not merely “intellectual assent” as many teach… it is a dependence… as the Bible presents it, and as reason dictates… but when this faith is linked with no “signposts” then it is blind faith. There is no reason to choose one path over another, but a choice is still made. The runner might get it right, or wrong… but they have to reason to prefer one path over the other.
But what if there is a signpost? “Safety” it says, and points left.
When the person steps onto that path, they are still putting precisely the same faith in that path to save them, but now it is not blind faith, but reasonable faith. It makes sense to choose that path.
Notice how neither the knowledge, reason or faith cancel each other out.
To me, placing my faith in the work of Jesus Christ and the revelation of the Holy Bible to communicate God’s opinions of things (https://chrismlegg.com/2011/03/14/what-is-religion/) is like following the Forest Ranger down the path which is lined with signs, arrows, and maps. It would be radically foolish not to.
The faith to accept His free gift (https://chrismlegg.com/2011/03/01/a-simple-gospel/) is not so hard for me. It makes sense to me.
Not so with prayer.
With prayer, understanding isn’t that easy for me. Let’s start there next time…