There are many reasons why people pray, but it seems to me there is a leading cause. I was trying to find a way to express it, and if you know me you know how much I love algebra, so I came up with a formula.
Life Realities often fly in the face of Scriptural Ideals. When this happens, Prayer is the result. As an example:
Scripture presents the ideal of patience and long-suffering. This sounds lovely and indeed it is. After reading in the Bible about the peace and stability of patience, we are resolved to meet this ideal. It’ll be awesome! I totally want this!
Along comes life.
School is cancelled due to “cold” and weak people’s notions of what kids can handle. Therefore, after two weeks of unbroken time with my kids, I am now forced to have two more days with kids all shut up in our little house.
Never mind I was looking forward to routine and quiet. It will not happen. So there is singing, jumping, banging, yelling, arguing, fighting, etc floating through the air as I sit in my basement.
Life Reality has met Scriptural Ideals and I Pray.
The temptation is to want Life Reality to change. “Dear Lord, please take these children away, either that or make me deaf and blind.” That seems like the obvious answer. Make God change my reality.
However, might I suggest that the proper prayer is, “Dear Lord, although deafness and blindness are still viable options, as long as I can hear and see, please help me be patient with my reality.”
People like to say that “prayer changes things.” Indeed it does. Often it changes us. Sometimes it changes our reality.
The best answer to prayer is a change in us. Reality shifts all over the place. Even if I were deaf and blind, no doubt I’d get sick of people touching me.
Life Reality will always exist. It’s a fallen world and there aint any perfection here. Therefore, my sincere desire is for Scriptural Ideals to be made real in me, so that no matter what Life may throw at me, I am equipped to handle it.
I believe this should be our prayer. Not so much for all pain to be healed, but for strength to bear the pain. Not so much for inconvenience to go away, but for me to be patient. Not so much for money to appear, but for me to be content.
I believe this is the Scriptural Ideal. I believe we ought to pray for this to be real.