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Brent (9)

Prayers of petition and intercession

These prayers are asking God for something, asking him to alter something; to remove a disease, to prevent a physical event, to heal an injury that natural causes would not heal or would not heal as quickly. Sometimes these prayers ask God to alter a state of mind "Help me to forgive." or "Give me wisdom". Often times quite insignificant daily events become the subjects of prayer. "Help me to find a park... there it is. Thanks Father."

December 8, 1999. The Dalai Lama says that religious leaders should stop relying on prayer and meditation to bring about world peace. They should do something instead. "Change," he says, "only takes place through action, not through meditation and prayer."

When the emergency technician is about to apply CPR, nobody says: "Wait! Let's pray first."

I have a few questions about prayer:
  • Does our asking God to do something good  make him more inclined to do good things?
  • Does he love our loved one more because we brought that person to His attention?
  • If I tell God that I desire one thing or event or another, how can it change His mind over what action he will or will not take if he is completely wise and good?

These questions make me reassess the nature of God or shift my opinions on prayer. I have even found myself saying to a friend in suffering, "If I thought that my asking God to care for you would make Him care for you more, then I would pray for you right now, but I believe His care is already perfect. So take heart." It feels to me that this is more authentic and probably more productive in that person's life.

Here are some questions that speak to the nature of humans and the purpose of human history:
  • Can answering prayer sabotage God's purposes in the universe?
  • If God answers some prayers but not others, what could the criteria be for that decision and how does he keep the answered:unanswered prayer ratio low so as to maintain the idea that the answers are extraordinary
  • Putting it another way, if God answered prayers by intervening and interrupting the cause and effects of our reality, how would we understand what our reality was. It would always be unpredictable and therefore impossible to understand. Unless miracles were so rare that you can almost count on them not happening. Indeed miracles are very rare - therefore we can ask if they are necessarily unavailable for so many who need them, why do them at all?
  • Is the complete freedom of our wills and even of nature itself, an essential ingredient in the story of our development. If God's purpose is to build our character and if there is an eternal scope to this project, when would miraculous intervention ever help?
 And one that brings the two areas of thought together:
  • If God expects us to prayer in every event even though He, by necessity will almost never answer in the affirmative, is that not cruel?