As I think about it, my 2 favorite quotes about prayer are as follows:
I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me. – C.S. Lewis
When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized that the Lord doesn’t work that way so I stole one and I asked him to forgive me. – Emo Phillips
Now I won’t say that C.S. Lewis’ polar opposite is Emo Phillips, but they certainly aren’t bedfellows. But despite their differences there’s something to be said about what their take on prayer is. C.S. Lewis’ reason for praying is one of recognizing his utter helplessness and dependency upon God, prayer is about him changing and not necessarily God. Emo Phillips’ take on prayer is one that says (satirically) that sometimes prayer isn’t enough, social action needs to be paired with what we offer up to God, and maybe that in itself is how our prayer gets answered (granted, stealing a bike isn’t right, but it is a clever analogy of prayer combined with social action).
Now when I think about the reasons why I pray, I think my number one reason is because if prayer is communication with God and all relationships are dependent on communication, why wouldn’t I want to talk to God and take time to be in his presence and even take time to listen. I also pray because I need a father figure in my life, and honestly God’s a lot closer to me than my father, I feel his presence and love and comfort in a world, my personal world, which at times feels completely FUBAR.
I usually address God as Father God due to some discomfort with the word “dad” due to my situation, but I am fine with others calling God “dad” or “Abba” or something else. I tend to avoid “Thanksgiving prayer” vernacular and length, I usually speak from the heart or the gut. The Psalmist David was at times all shot and no chaser, I too let God “have it” with my prayers, I’m glad he can handle what I have to say because sometimes he’sthe onlyone who can handle it…and who better than God, the creator of everything, to handle it all. 🙂
The other day at the church where I help out with the high school youth group, the leader & my friend of 18 years, Ben H led the students and the leaders into a time of prayer, quiet/silent prayer. It’s not the first time he’s led prayer in this way and it can be unnerving and unraveling to pray in silence. If we had more time I probably could’ve gotten lost (in a good way) in the silence, but we only did it for a brief while. It was good to pray in this way, and it was very encouraging to get feedback from the guy group as to what they thought about praying in this manner, some could handle it and some could not, but I think that every now and then it needs to be practiced whether it can be done or not, trying in this case matters whether one is successful or not.
Prayer is a vital part of my life, and like C.S. Lewis prayer primarily changes me and then God and like Emo Phillips prayer isn’t considering God to be a genie that grants my prayers as if they were wishes, sometimes the answers to my prayers is me by way of social justice and related. For these reasons and others I continue to pray.