I have a family member who when driving with her she tends to pray in advance of me parking my car for a parking spot.
Now I consider myself a man of prayer. I enjoy praying because essentially it is talking and communicating with God, and there are times there’s no one I rather talk to than God, and not in bad times where life is unmanageable and I’ve gone on too long in leaning on my own strength but times when life is good, times when perfect shalom appears to be the horizon.
My take on praying to a god for a parking spot is…well…making God out to be something he’s not, in the same stride the god presented when looking for a parking spot, is the god that gets prayed to when we leave the house late and hope to get on work on time, the god who gets called upon when we’re watching to see if our lottery ticket is the one that wins big, the god who’s thanked for unexpected pizza days at school, the god we pray to that we don’t get caught after pulling an illegal u-turn, the god who let our team win the Super Bowl.
The thing is, that god is not God. That god is small, puny, domesticated and contained. He is docile, he’s our lucky charm, he’s our Mr. Potato Head…but what kind of god is that? What good is a god like that?
C.S. Lewis put it well in his book The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. One of the children upon hearing that Aslan is a lion asks The Beavers if Aslan is safe; “Of course he isn’t safe! But he’s good.” Aslan is the character representing God, in which He cannot be thoroughly comprehended, he cannot truly be defined by mere human words, there is no box to contain him and he is not safe…but he is good. So to attribute available parking spots to him, the lack of getting a ticket, the winning of the Super Bowl, and so on is detrimental to us and not to God.
Instead of putting God in a box, why not let God be God? Because a God who isn’t contained by our standards and presuppositions is more of who he is anyway. He isn’t safe, but he is good.