Much have been preached, taught, said and written about prayer. But I have not really understood it. As much as I am not satisfied with my view, it was more fatalistic in nature. I thought that things are as they are: willed and purposed by God. And they will be as they are, whatever we do. But God still commanded us to pray, and so I pray.
But I changed my mind today and have begun to understand it a bit differently. At least I now no longer have a fatalistic view of prayer. It all started with a taxi cab behind me on my drive to work.
I am somewhat a stickler for common courtesy on the road - as in, take your turn, line up and don't jump queue, make way for each other, and I firmly believe that if all drivers practice a give-and-take courtesy, driving will be a much better and less stressful experience.
Anyway, this morning, a taxi stopped short behind me without jumping queue when he had the opportunity to. I smiled, uttered a quiet thank you and by reflex prayed for him. I worked in a project last year in an organisation that manages the industry and I have learnt of their hardship in making a living as a taxi driver in our country. At that moment, I had the compunction and desire to bring their needs to God. And that very moment, I asked myself, why did I do it? What is prayer? Will it make any difference?
I then recognised and admitted that most of my supplication prayer for others are usually without much conviction. It is not because I do not care for them, I do care and very much at that but I had believed that God is in control and He has it already in His plan and His purpose. And I had believed that we pray so what we too remember and have them close to our hearts when we bring them to God in prayer.
But now I am beginning to see how wrong I was!
After I prayed for the taxi driver, I asked God why did I pray and what exactly am I doing? As I talked to him, I began to understand it this way: God is indeed in control over his creation and the world that we all live in. His prevenient grace is over all societies and communities. But those who have committed their lives to him are his beloved and he listens to them. Anything that his beloved bring to him in prayer, he will in his time and purpose give his attention. We are like children bringing our cares and desires to our Father in heaven, who listens and responds as he sees fit.
I am glad I understood prayer better now and I will definitely be praying with more conviction and praying more for those in need, with the assurance that God wants to hear what cares I have in my heart so he can be a big part in my life.
There is still much mystery in the discipline of prayer, and I hope to unearth its truth slowly but surely as I spend more time praying to my God. Amen.
Photo (c) 2006 Austin, Canada