What good is praying?
If God, to whom you pray, knows the future, then the future is already determined. So why bother praying? How can prayer change the future? And if God does not know the future, why bother worshiping?
What if your thinking about time and the future constrains your thinking about prayer?
As Westerners, we have a unique preoccupation with time.
In March 1998, Dr. Paul Mills opined, “Western lifestyle is dominated by considerations of time to such a degree that the clock is rivalled only by the printing press as the most influential invention of this millennium. In societies less obsessed with temporal flow, we are known as ‘people with gods on their wrists’. Time travel is a pervasive theme of our science fiction.”
We view life in terms of yesterday, today and tomorrow. I have often misquoted a verse in the New Testament book, Hebrews, based on that view. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.” Look it up. The author used the word “forever” not the word “tomorrow”. (Hebrews 13:8)
There is a chasm between “tomorrow” and “forever.”
Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (Matthew 6:34)
A poem read at 12-step meetings is entitled, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
There are two days in every week
about which we should not worry,
Two days, which should be kept free of fear and apprehension.
One of these days is YESTERDAY,
With its mistakes and cares,
Its faults and blunders,
Its aches and pains.
YESTERDAY has passed forever beyond our control.
All the money in the world cannot bring back YESTERDAY.
We cannot undo a single act we performed;
We cannot erase a single word we said.
YESTERDAY is gone.
The other day we should not worry about is TOMORROW
With its possible adversities, its burdens, its larger promise.
TOMORROW is also beyond our immediate control.
TOMORROW, the sun will rise,
Either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds,
But it will rise.
Until it does, we have no stake in TOMORROW
For it is as yet unborn.
This leaves only one day – TODAY.
Any man can fight the battles of just one day.
It is only when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities
– YESTERDAY and TOMORROW –
That we break down.
It is not the experience of TODAY that drives men mad.
It’s remorse or bitterness for something which happened YESTERDAY
And the dread of what TOMORROW may bring.
Let us, therefore, live but ONE day at a time.
Tomorrow is defined as the day after today.
Tomorrow is a placeholder. What if tomorrow doesn’t exist beyond being a placeholder – a term for the uncreated? What if everything beyond now is still to be created in time?
Fatalism is the belief that the future is set in stone. I am powerless to affect the future.
Determinism is the belief the future is still to be created. I can have an effect on future outcomes. What if the future is waiting to be created in the now? Jesus encouraged prayer as a way to co-labour with God in creating the future.
He prayed so well his disciples asked him to teach them to pray. What did they admire in Jesus’ prayers? Eloquence? Outcomes. Jesus manifested power to create the future. He invites you to do the same. “When you pray, say…your kingdom come…” (Luke 11:2)
Prayer is more than talking at the ceiling. Prayer creates tomorrow.
APPLICATION: What do you think about prayer? What does your praying say about you? Do you believe Jesus wants you to pray? Please leave a comment below.
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