I suppose one of the reasons I got this gig to do a prayer blog for Beliefnet is because I’ve co-written two books with my friend Jennifer Schuchmann about communicating with God. Our first, “Six Prayers God Always Answers – Results May Vary,” deals with how we talk with God. The second, “Nine Ways God Always Speaks – Only Available in Certain States,” addresses how God talks with us.
So does publishing a book on prayer make me an expert? Hardly. Maybe I’m just plucky enough to spout my ignorance, or at least my desperation. Truth is, I just want to grow closer and more authentic in my relationship with God. Writing about the process is just a great way to learn – and be accountable to developing my side of the equation.
That said, periodically I’ll drop in an excerpt from one of our books. Item #1: Here’s the introduction to “Six Prayers God Always Answers – Results May Vary.”
Prayer doesn’t work.
We often get that confused, don’t we?
We think there is a certain formula we have to follow–a right way of doing prayer. If we do it right, God answers. It’s like using the correct postage after a rate change, the proper stamp ensures delivery. But when our prayers don’t get answered, we believe we’re somehow at fault. We prayed the “wrong” way. There are lots of ways we could have screwed up–not enough postage (or good deeds), mislabeled the envelope (prayed to God when we should have prayed to Jesus) or forgot to seal it (with a promise to do better next time).
If that’s how you think, this isn’t the book for you. The authors don’t believe in a right way or a wrong way. Yes, biblical literature, church history, and religious traditions present some great guidelines when you need an example to follow, but the truth is, prayer is nothing more than communication with God. Some of us prefer long, elegantly handwritten notes on premium stationery. Others prefer text messages with abbreviated words that aren’t grammatically correct (and that parents can’t decipher). But regardless of how we pray, it isn’t prayer that changes things. It’s God who changes things.
Sometimes, we forget that. Six Prayers
Question: What do you think? Does prayer work? Or does God work through prayer? Those are two different ways to look at our world and spiritual reality. How do you see it? Does faith bring answers to prayer? Or does God work through faith to answer prayer?