Prayer: Why Bother?

“Why Bother Praying?” is a new title from Paulist Press.

That stark question – by itself – raises interesting rock-bottom issues.

“Why bother” hints at a great reason to bypass prayer:

“Why bother, because what God will do, God will do”?

For a minute, put on the why-bother point of view:

  • The Christian God is the sovereign ruler of the universe.
  • He controls the atoms, the cells, the neutrons.
  • He knows how history will end, already, and knew it from (before) the beginning.
  • Jesus, after all, is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation )

So: why pray?

Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see. Que sera, sera.

He even knows our prayers before we make them.

Why ask him? He already knows what you need. Why clog up communication with needless information?

And, prayers that are in line with the will of God are the only ones that are heard.

Translated: Ask him to do what he is going to do already, and he will do it.

Doesn’t that make praying seem pointless?

Why take time to pray?

The effect of any prayer is already included in the divine plan.

Wait a minute: If the effect of your prayer is already factored into the divine plan, then, suppose you did not pray.

Your non-prayer is part of the divine plan also.

Nobody prayed, so God did nothing!

Here is a confirmation of this line of thinking. Jesus went back to Nazareth, and he could not do much there, because the townspeople did not believe in him.

They did not have faith in him. Maybe they did not have much faith in their God, either, besides doubting Jesus’ credentials; maybe their turning away from God was radical. The account is not specific, perhaps because those who had faith in God were looking for his Messiah, like Simeon or Anna (Luke’s gospel).

Basic point: Your prayers in time make a difference for eternity.

We humans cannot know how God will use our prayer. The book says that the prayer of a righteous person makes a big difference.

The book assures us: God’s people can pray and change the course of history.

God hears. Passages even affirm that he “repented” of some promised judgment.

Looks like good reasons for not praying are theological reasons somehow understood in the wrong light:

  • The foreknowledge of God.
  • The nature of faith.
  • Trust in God as central to the Christian life.
  • God in time and beyond time, transcendent, and also immanent. Beyond us and with us.
  • Trusting God in disasters like Habakkuk’s catastrophe.
  • Believing that the Cross is God’s paradoxical decisive intervention in history.

Jesus prayed!

Why on earth did Jesus have to pray?

If Jesus is the second person of the Trinity, the fact that he prayed is as much mystery as one could imagine.

He even said that the Father knows some things not known by the Son, at least while on Earth. –More mystery.

Then again, Jesus is still praying, Hebrews tells us.

Prayer might be the most central aspect – the defining aspect – of the Christian life, the sign of one’s faith, humility, love, hope, compassion. Maybe.

I’m in Oxford where colleges were founded to pray for the souls of the wealthy departed.

Could one write about great ages of prayer? Great places of prayer?

I hear that Korea knows how to pray.

Could an age of prayer give way to an age of advance for the gospel?

Korea sends many missionaries. The country has changed dramatically. Are these changes from prayers?

“Jesus taught them that they should always pray and never give up.”