There are certainly problems with prayer: Why pray when God already knows all about that situation? “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Why thank God when He doesn’t need the affirmation? If prayer is a conversation with a friend, how come I seldom have a two way dialogue? How about unanswered prayer? There are many problems, but I watch how Jesus would pray and that Jesus did pray to His Father, and that is enough for me.
The following passage from Phillip Yancey’s book Prayer really helped me: “God already cares for the things we pray about…He has simply been waiting for us to care about them with Him. When we pray, we stand by God and look with Him towards those people and problems.”
This analogy of standing by God’s side and looking at the situations of our life side by side is revolutionary for me. Before, I saw myself praying at some altar and God was above me. In my mind, we were separated. Another analogy that I have used, is that of sitting in the Father’s lap. There is no separation in this calming view, but it’s a very dependent view of our relationship with God, much like a baby or child being comforted. There are times where this works.
Yancey’s prose has God and I together looking at a person or problem that God already cares about. I am not trying to get a reluctant God to make a cosmic change in Gaza or in my next jumpstart. Together, we are caring about this situation, and I have moved from a servant to a friend. Together, God and I face this day, walking arm in arm.