“Is there a reason I’m not healing
Or am I learning from this pain?
I have a little trouble kneeling
I don’t know what to believe
I’m ready to question
That life is a blessing
Give me a sign, am I following blind?
Is there anyone listening?
Is there anyone listening?
I don’t know”
Gabrielle Alpin, Ready to Question
Prayer – A First Instinct
There have been times in my life when my first instinct has been to bow my head and bring my hands up, clasped in front of my closed eyes. Inspired by pain, fear or joy, I would immediately and without a second thought begin to pray. At other times in my life I have been resistant. Ignorant and stubborn, I question if it is helping anything at all. And since I converted to Islam, which has a very specific process for prayer, I have begun to question it completely. Not the need for it, because my heart often aches to talk to God, but the actual way we go about it.
Does praying a certain way matter to God? Is it necessary to form actual sentences in our head to pray or does God just look at the wordless way your soul speaks? Does God get angry with us if we go too long in between prayers? Is he less likely to answer us if we only pray when we need something? And does it matter if I am on my knees or standing over my kitchen sink?
To be honest, I have struggled with these questions for a long time, probably at least half of my life. And the more I think about them, the more questions I have. Going through trials in life makes me wonder if we should even ask God to change anything or get us out. Should we only ask for strength? Patience to endure? It is hard for me to not ask for the exact things I want. And maybe that is totally okay with God but I also feel like I am then asking him to change his plans.
Surrounded By Prayer
Being surrounded by theology and opinions my whole life, has at the same time helped and confused me when it comes to prayer. I hear pastor’s voices regurgitating things they read in books or heard from other pastors. I have peers, family and friends’ voices in my head telling me what prayer means to them personally and what they believe talking to God is really like. And they are all different. So is there a right way?
Though people differ vastly on how to pray, it seems like everyone believes that there is indeed a correct way to pray. And when I am struggling with what to say to God in my more pleading prayers, I often wonder if doing it a different way or saying magic words would ease my pain and bring a quicker ending to whatever trial I am going through.
But the thing I always come back to is thinking about God’s character. When I am questioning prayer and how to go about it, I ask myself a few things:
- Would a perfect God be petty enough to withhold what I need because I did not ask the right way?
- Would a perfect God need to hear me even verbalize my thoughts and feelings?
- Would a perfect God be passive aggressive enough to withdraw from me because I had not prayed in a while.
The answer I come to is No.
Remember, We Are All Humans
An important thing to keep in mind when thinking about this, is that the people who talk about prayer and interpret the process of it are humans. We are fallible creatures who would not be able to comprehend God’s perfection any more than an ant could understand an iPhone. Communicating with that perfect God is incredibly important and in and of itself a huge blessing to us. Regardless of what it does to instigate change, it has a great purpose. And I ask you to really think about it. Take in as many opinions and theories as you can. Ask God for guidance about what he wants from you when you pray. And make it a life long journey of discovery. I may not know exactly what God does with prayer, but I do know that your life will be lacking without it.
“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
Prayer is our Summer Challenge Word Today and we you are invited to live it throughout this and as many days as you need to. Join our community and keep abreast of the daily Challenge Word throughout the month of July. Yesterday’s Word can be found here on Claudette’s Facebook page.
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