One of the things I’ve noticed that people tend to struggle with once they Deconstruct their Christian faith is that it gets a lot harder to make sense of prayer as they once knew it.
Some of those I’ve spoken to wrestle with the whole concept of praying to God because, to them, it just feels like begging God to notice the injustice in our world, or to care, or to just be merciful or good. All of these things are what they already believe God to be like, anyway. So, why do feel the need to ask God to be what God already is?
Others wrestle with the idea that we need a certain magic number of others to pray along with us about whatever we’re asking God to do. As if God is going to ignore us until we get at least 250, or 500, or 5,000 people to also beg and ask and plead for God to act. This just seems really inconsistent with our view that God is always willing to do good, regardless of how many – or how few – stop and ask.
Still others are uncomfortable with the notion that God arbitrarily works miracles for some of us while ignoring others. This random act of kindness version of God also seems more than a little inconsistent, if we’re honest.
So, what are we to do when it comes to this question of prayer? Is there any point to prayer? If so, what is it? Have we been thinking about prayer wrong this whole time?
Well, based on a recent conversation I had with some of the beautiful people in our Square 1 community on this topic, here’s what we determined.
Kinds of prayer that don’t “work” for most of us:
*Begging prayers – Prayers that plead with God to care as if God doesn’t already care. Sounds like: “God heal my friend, please rescue my friends who are in trouble,…”, etc.
*Prayers that substitute for action – This is when we fire up a prayer asking God to do acts of kindness to others so we don’t have to stop and do anything compassionate ourselves. Sounds like: “God bless that beggar on the corner as I drive on by…”
*Wish list prayers – When we just pray for God to give us things we want. Sounds like: “God give me a new job, a new car, a new blessing…”, etc.
*Identity-swap prayers – This is when our prayers assume that God only cares about the things that we also care about. Sounds like: “God please let my favorite team with the championship…”, etc.
So, what are the kinds of prayer that do “work” for us? This is what we came up with:
*Alignment prayers – This is when we sit in silence and “know” God’s presence; becoming in tune with the Divine to see what God is already doing in the world around us, and within our own life. Sounds like: “…..” [silence]
*Letting go – When our prayers revolve around surrendering our need to control, or coerce, or manipulate God, or reality, or anyone else. Sounds like: “Yes, God…” or “Your will be done.”
*Gratitude – When we simply stop and thank God for every simple blessing, small miracle and beautiful sunrise/sunset we experience each and every day. Sounds like: “Thank you God for…” [fill in the blank]
*Empathy – This is when we enter into the suffering and sorrow of another person simply because we realize that God’s heart also breaks for those who suffer and weep. Sounds like: [insert sounds of weeping here]
*Transformation – When our inner tuning fork resonates with the heart of God and we simply rest in the process of being transformed – slowly but surely – into the image of Christ. This could involve an agreement with the need for us to ask forgiveness, or to receive mercy, or to show mercy to others or extend forgiveness to those who have harmed us. Sounds like: [groanings that words cannot express]
One person in our conversation suggested that the only reason he still prays is “…because I love my Abba and I know my Abba loves me, and loves to hear my voice and to spend time with me and sit with me.”
So, as you navigate your Deconstruction journey and move on into Reconstructing your faith, I encourage you to reexamine prayer, too.
You might just find yourself experiencing an even greater sense of God’s presence in the process.
For those who would like to join our private Square 1 community and online course, our next session begins August 9, 2021. You can register today for a whopping 75% off the regular cost [and break payments into 3 monthly installments if you like] at this link HERE>
Keith Giles and his wife, Wendy, work with Peace Catalyst International to help build relationships between Christians and Muslims in El Paso, TX. Keith was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church over a decade ago to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today he is the author of the best-selling “Jesus Un” series of books, including “Jesus Unforsaken: Substituting Divine Wrath With Unrelenting Love” which is available now on Amazon.