There are many reasons to pray, heaps of them, praise, petition, worship, confession, help, peace, healing, protection, revelation ... I could go on. I needed to state that before I begin here, I know there are many 'why's'. I don't want to ruffle feathers, that is not my purpose in this post. I just have to be honest. Since I was a child I wondered about the logic of praying to a God who knows all.
A few weeks ago, I was talking about this with my niece, me rugged up in my merino top, warm hoodie and ugg boots because it was night time and we've only just come into spring, her in a singlet, thin cardie and jandals, as teenagers don't feel the cold. That is irrelevant to prayer, I know. Anyway, we meet under the guise of a 'mentoring' program we are part of, we learn from each other, and I'm not going to get into the in's and out's of mentoring now. This particular night we were chatting about prayer, the 'why do we tell God anything, when He knows everything?' point came up. It was good to chew the fat with a 15 year old on this subject. Enlightening. Not sure we came to any great conclusions that night. I only hope she has been thinking on it as much as I have since.
This goes back a long way for me. It dawned on me one day that my prayer life was dismal, utterly dismal, because I finally admitted to myself that I didn't believe in prayer. I had told people I will pray for them, numerous times, and wondered what my prayers will do. I have attended prayer meetings where people and situations have been petitioned for, and I think, God knows that, why are we telling him!?!
Last year a dear, dear friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer. Prayerfully that put me in a awkward situation - how was I going to pray for her? I told God about it, like He didn't have a clue. I begged God to heal her, I pleaded for God to comfort her and her lovely family, I asked God to draw her and her husband close to Him in this time. And I did this from the very depths of my heart. Yet all the while, I had in the back of my mind, 'He knows what is going to happen, and it will happen as He knows it. So what are my desperate prayers going to accomplish?'
The Bible speaks of occasions where God changed his mind, I'm not heading that direction today. I'm just wanting to put out there the formal in 'stating the obvious' of our prayers sometimes.
Example: Fictional Samuel lost his job.
Do I pray; "Lord, I want to lift Samuel up to you, he just lost his job and things are really tuff for him right now, please comfort him and bring another job along very soon."
This is where my 15 year old niece succinctly put it, "That's like me telling you, who woke up this morning and dressed yourself, 'You are wearing jeans, a blue hoodie and glasses.'". It's stating the obvious.
If I was to tell a friend about fictional Samuel, wouldn't I say something more like; "My heart goes out to Samuel, I don't know what to say to him, or what to do to help, I wish I did."
So why do we treat God like he's oblivious of circumstances and more importantly, is it a way we become formal when we pray? The whole point of relationship is to draw nearer, yet we distance ourselves by making it about circumstances and not about how holy, glorious or merciful God is, and us, mere yet beloved, mortal. It can become religious and formal because we don't talk about how we feel, or how we can be moved, used and changed through the Holy Spirit.
I don't think there is any point in praying if we are going to tell God circumstances, He knows all, what's to tell.
What you would tell your best friend, that is what God wants to hear from us. Imagine with me for a moment that you go around to your best friends house for a cuppa tea and you sit down and immediately turn into a news anchor, giving updates of your week - they would look at you like you had 'lost the plot'. Yet don't we do that with God?
Breaking news Lord, Samuel has lost his job! And I am wearing the same blue hoodie today as I was the other day.
He wants our hearts, not our articulate review of situations. He wants our obedience and time, our company, thoughts, wants, desires, and fears. Yes petition, but from your heart. If you don't care about a situation, don't pray about it, then think 'tick' done. Ask God for the power of the Holy Spirit who doesn't just give compassion, He is compassion.
I challenge myself, and you if you're up for it: Let's get real with God.