I heard someone say that she could not fathom how it could be right to ask God for things when many people suffer all over the world. In refuting petitionary prayer she was justifying her own lack of faith in God.
On the surface this sounded compassionate and a not a little sanctimonious. I’ve been pondering it for a few days.
I’ve been in the habit of entertaining new thoughts without fully adopting them so I can turn them over like fresh dirt on my garden. Could she be right?
It’s seems certainly true from this point in my life that others have and will suffer more than I do. It is also true that I’ve been blessed beyond measure. How dare I ask for more? And more disturbing–assuming that He is listening to our prayers–how could God answer some and not others?
It seems to me that this moral dilemma is at the heart of most dour souls who retreat into atheism. There is an invisible tribunal that finds God guilty of favoritism. ‘They’ would never stoop to that. Therefore they dispense with God. God and prayer disposed of. Matter settled.
However, I believe prayer is little more than exposing my deepest longings to the light of day. I believe even the above stance on fairness is a prayer of sorts. Certainly it is dishonest to say that I wish to suffer. I don’t believe any one does. But to dismiss the petitioning of God on the basis that I have no right to ask is only to reinforce the sovereignty and power of God!
Of course I have no right. To begin with any other premise is a glaring error. Prayer begins with honesty and humility.
I suspect my challenger hides behind a screen of false piety. I can relate. This is my default habit.
It is true that there is a refuge in believing that God hears me. I have found it time and time again. Perhaps that makes me weak. It does not feel so.
Psalm 18:25 states: ‘To the faithful you show yourself faithful… vs 26 …but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.’
Could it be that God tailors his action to our heart? Or that the condition of our heart allows us to see him accordingly?
I’m still turning it over.
In the meantime I’m still petitioning for myself and others.