Many people struggle with the idea of prayer post deconstruction. As we come to know a God whose love constrains God from controlling the decisions and circumstances of humanity, it can difficult to know what to pray for. Some might even wonder why we bother to pray at all.
Prayer as Bypassing
For most of my life, my prayers were actually a form of spiritual bypassing. Rather than feeding the hungry homeless person, I would pray for them asking God to provide. If a family member was distressed, I would pray asking God to bring peace rather than make myself personally available to encourage them. This method of passing the buck to Divinity puts the burden on God to accomplish what God has clearly given me the power to accomplish without Divine intervention. I would even pray for God’s provision for myself while passively ignoring opportunities to gain the resources I needed.
Thanks to authors like Mark Karris and Thomas Jay Oord, I’m starting to see prayer as a melding of wills. It’s a time of surrendering in which I invite God to inspire me to accomplish all the good that I have already been empowered to carry out. I ask God to help me recognize opportunities for me to be an answer to someone else’s prayer when I have the power to do so.
God is seeking human partners with which to bring about Divine purposes. We no longer have to plead with God to do what is clearly for our good. We can assume that God has our back and is working things for our good as we look for opportunities to embrace the way of Jesus in our day-to-day lives.
When it comes to praying for others, we can rest assured that God is working for their good as well. Rather than spending time begging God to bless those we care about, we look for opportunities to be a blessing to them ourselves.
Still, there are times when only a miracle will do and I’m grateful to say I’ve seen a few of those in my lifetime. There are people with cancer who are beyond medical hope. There are many situations in life that are beyond human ability to remedy. So we pray asking God to do what we cannot. And we pray with our eyes wide open seeking ways in which we can partner with God to bring healing and hope to those who need it most. We pray with faith God is love and is actively working for the good of humanity.
Last year, I spoke with authors Mark Karris and Thomas Jay Oord about partnering with this God of uncontrolling love and rethinking prayer after deconstruction. You can listen to my conversation with Mark Karris here and with Thomas Jay Oord here.
Look for a follow up episode of The Messy Spirituality Podcast with Thomas Jay Oord on Monday, August 17, 2020.