Prayer, Plain and Simple

“Why, God?”

Looking at pictures of the pain and sorrow in Haiti, that’s our natural question. We want to know why a loving and all powerful God would allow such devastation. Be honest now. All of us want to know this…

But “Why, God?” is a question God seldom addresses. It’s a prayer he seldom answers. Instead…  In my book, co-written with Jennifer Schuchmann, Six Prayers God Always Answers, I address this question of questions… We naturally ask “Why?” But it seems there’s a far better way to address God in the face of crisis. Here’s an excerpt:

Some of our why questions are as old as life itself.

Why is there evil?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Why does a good God allow such pain and suffering?

But why can easily move beyond an honest request to become a passive-aggressive demand for reparation. It can ring with a scolding tone, expecting God to own up to some grand foible and concede he’s done something wrong.

We attempt to lay our grievances on his doorstep, but God stoutly refuses to be made answerable for the mishaps of this world. He is God, and he won’t take responsibility for that which he didn’t do. God won’t be made party to evil. It is in the world of its own accord. God won’t be made to feel the guilt.

But the Bible never explains evil. The lack of explanation drives us toward our own when we can’t find his. The rational Greek-logic answer would force a decision. Either God is all powerful and unjust, or just, but too weak to enforce it.

The Hebrews answer the perplexity differently. For them the solution is both/and. The Psalmist writes, “One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard; that you, O God, are strong, and that you O God, are loving.” We feel the matter as two things, powerful and unjust or just and weak. But for God it is a unified question. He is loving and strong. Their answer forces us to consider our own. Sometimes we can’t see the answer because it isn’t obvious until we ask a different question.

That “different” question is “how?” Instead of seeking the cause for a crisis, what if instead we ask God, “Now that this is problem is here, how do I respond? How are you responding? How can I cooperate with you in fixing it?”

From “Why?” to How?”

“God we don’t fully understand why this terrible crisis has befallen Haiti. You are not answering our questions demanding an explanation. But we can ask, “How?” How can respond with you now? How can we be your hands and feet? How can we pray? How can we know and cooperate with you in this dark day?  God, we trust you. Lead us. Lead the leaders of Haiti and those working in relief programs. Turn this broken place into a new beacon of hope. In Jesus…”


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