I was just asked to pray for a man’s wife. She is going to have a scan today to see how her cancer is. He wanted me to pray that her cancer is gone. Prayers don’t work like this. Sure, I can pray that they find everything that needs to be found, and that the machine is working correctly. But I can’t pray that her cancer has disappeared. That is a different thing altogether.
Say your friend tells you that she is pregnant and she asks you to pray that it is a girl. This is too late. The gender of the child is already determined at this point. The time to pray for a specific gender was before she got pregnant.
Say you are driving home and you see smoke from a fire. You start praying “God, don’t let that be my house!” Too late. The fire is already happening. It won’t jump from your house to another. If it did, that would mean that your neighbor’s house would be on fire, and that wouldn’t be fair. But in reality, you just have to accept that whatever house that is on fire is on fire. You can’t change it. You can pray that everybody gets out ok, but even then you need to understand that isn’t up to you either.
Sometimes people are meant to die young. Sometimes bad things happen. Our goal with prayer is to learn how to accept the reality of the situation.
The more we try to define things as bad or good, the more resistance we are bringing to the situation, and the more attachment.
Our goal is to be like a surfer. Ride the waves, and go with them. You can’t control them. If you work with them you are safe. If you work against them you will get hurt. Or die.
Prayer isn’t about getting what you want. It is about wanting what you get.
A lot of prayer isn’t about changing God’s mind. It is about us coming to grips with God’s will. It is about us learning to accept what IS.
God is in charge. Our job is to understand that. If we believe that God is good, we have to accept that whatever happens is what God needs to happen. We may not like it at the time. It may be pretty awful in fact. But the more we resist, the harder it gets.
There was one time I was in a river raft. My boyfriend at the time was a guide. He had taken many tours of that river and knew it well. We were with a few other friends on a private trip down the river. He got to a certain area and had us “surf” for a bit. The water started to come into the boat a little. I started to freak out and tried to climb out of the raft. He held me in the raft, pushing down on my shoulders. I freaked out more. We got out of it fine and he explained it to me. He knew what he was doing. It had to happen that way. If I’d gotten out, I would have been pulled away by the current, or worse, pulled under the raft. My resisting was making it worse for me.
Ideally, he would have explained all this before we got to that area, but he didn’t think to. Also, he didn’t know exactly the way the water (or I) was going to behave. But he knew what he was doing, even if I didn’t. He was the expert, and I wasn’t.
God is the expert, and we aren’t. God is in charge, and we aren’t. God knows what is going to happen, and we don’t. God is the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end. God is everything, all at once. We can’t even begin to comprehend that. God’s will is so much more vast than we can ever know.
Prayer puts us in a state of being receptive to the will of God.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t ask God to change His mind. But be aware that whatever happens after that is what is supposed to happen. God is not your waiter. You don’t get to “have it your way.”