16
Nov
22

Why I Pray

Back in the day, (to be perfectly honest, WAAAAY back in the day), the group Lovin’ Spoonful sang a song that asked the musical question, “Do you believe in magic?”

If John Sebastian and his bandmates asked me that today, I would have to say, “NO. Frankly, I don’t.” 

That is because my rational, scientific brain tells me that quarters don’t somehow mysteriously appear in my ear, rabbits – not previously residing inside a top hat – don’t suddenly materialize there. I also know there is an entirely plausible explanation for why the man in the black cape astonishingly knows which card I secretly selected. 

No. While I do enjoy watching it, I don’t believe in magic.

I do, however, believe in the power of prayer. 

Hearing me speak that last sentence out loud might prompt a skeptic to stand up and proclaim, “Balderdash! That’s a contradiction!” They would then go on to explain that there is no rational, scientific connection between my inaudible pleadings to an invisible, supernatural power and some hoped-for outcome. Furthermore, they would go on to stridently declare that any IMAGINED connection between the two is pure illusion. 

They would then likely conclude by patting me on the head condescendingly and saying, “But if it makes you feel better to do that kind of thing, go right ahead, sport. I suppose it doesn’t hurt anyone.”

To which I would reply, “Not so fast there my skeptical friend.” While it DOES deal with invisible, often inexplicable realms of reality, prayer is not magic

Magic is unnatural. Meaning it defies nature.

Prayer is SUPERnatural. Meaning that it stands outside and above the natural order.

Praying is predicated on the belief that – though we cannot see it or even remotely understand it – there is SOMETHING that exists beyond the reach of limited, flawed, flesh and blood humans. 

Prayer is also based on the conviction that the character of this SOMETHING is benevolent… even to the point of being able to be called LOVING. 

Finally, the practice of prayer rests on the understanding that communication can be established between HERE and THERE… between the EPHEMERAL and the ETHEREAL… between the VISIBLE and the INVISIBLE. 

And since I am firmly on board with all three of those propositions, I pray.

  • Sometimes I pray for an outcome or a resolution to a problem I am facing.
  • Sometimes my prayers consist of silently spitballing solutions.
  • Entirely too infrequently, my prayers are lists of things I am grateful for today.
  • On even rarer occasions my prayer takes the form of silent listening. 

Seeing this list, you might be inclined to ask, “So… does it work?”

What you might mean with this question is, “Does your prayer generally bring you the outcome you were seeking?” If that is what you mean, I would have to answer, “No. Not always.”

But if instead you mean, “Does your praying succeed in renewing your sense that there is a connection between you and that loving, benevolent SOMETHING you talked about earlier?” I would hasten to answer, “Why yes! Almost always.”

And when that connection is renewed, the funniest thing happens. Suddenly I am able to see the problem I was trying to solve, or the person I was trying to influence, or the mood I was trying to lift in an entirely new light. 

I suddenly see them each in the light of eternity.

Abundant blessings;


3 Responses to “Why I Pray”


  1. November 16, 2022 at 10:06 pm

    As I have written in my book “BARRIERS (So, if prayers are so powerful, how come mine don’t get answered?)” the benefit we get from praying (the right way – I wrote 14 chapters about 14 wrong ways to pray.) is the relationship with the One we’re praying TO. This relationship is more precious to me than a “yes” answer to all my prayers. Life doesn’t always go the way we like, but if we know the God of the universe, we can be confident that He has everything under control, and He knows a lot more than we do! He’ll do what’s best for us in the long run, which will be better than anything we can imagine. I know young people don’t like to hear it, but instant gratification is not all it’s cracked up to be.

  2. November 17, 2022 at 8:47 am

    Thanks, Russell, for your insights. They are helpful. Like so many things, the more I learn about prayer the more I realise I don’t know. It is about relationship; it’s also about discovering and discerning the way God sees things and lining myself up with him…
    ‘Thy will be done’ prayers keep me humble because I really don’t know what is best.

    • November 17, 2022 at 3:15 pm

      Amen. Thanks for your thoughtful insights. I was worried about sounding too much like I fully “understand” prayer as I sat to write this, but felt compelled to state my belief in and support of it… despite my lack of understanding.


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