Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Why Pray?

In response to “An Atheist’s PrayerRequest” a gentleman offered,

Prayer is certain proof of god's incompetence, lack of honor and lack of compassion. A truly just god would never need to be reminded of obligations to heal the sick and injured, to keep the innocent from harm or to protect the faithful. A god who needs reminding (prayers) is a pathetic excuse for a deity.

Below is my response.

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I'm not sure why you think of prayer as a matter of God's "need[ing] to be reminded." Why would anyone pray to a forgetful god?

Thus we are agreed: A god who would need to be reminded would be a pathetic excuse for a deity—a false god, if you will.

But prayer has nothing to do with God's needs. It has everything to do with our needs. And while prayer does not provide God with new information, it does provide us with an avenue for self-disclosure (a vital aspect of genuine relating).

How awful would it be if our children never spoke to us because they understood that we—as wise parents—already know their needs and will meet them? My children need the things I afford them but they need me (their father) more than the things I give them.

Even so, our greatest need is to be in communion with God Himself. That is, we need God more than the things we may ask Him for. Prayer meets this greater need.

What if the main object in God’s idea of prayer be the supplying of our great, our endless need—the need of Himself? . . . Hunger may drive the runaway child home, and he may or may not be fed at once, but he needs his mother more than his dinner. (C.S. Lewis, “George MacDonald An Anthology,” p.41).

You may presently be unaware of or vehemently deny your need for God, but perhaps someday you will think otherwise. 

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