Teachings like these indicate that ‘helping’ God to answer our prayers demonstrates a lack of faith on our part, that we believe our all powerful creator is incapable of granting our request all on his own.
They also teach that any efforts on our part to bring about our desired outcome prevents us from receiving God’s best. That is, when we pursue what we believe is best for us, then we focus on that specific outcome and will miss out on any of the myriad of other ways God might come up with, ways not limited to our knowledge or resources.
When we pray in this way, the answering of our prayer doesn't involve us; prayer is passive. It relies on the outcome being handed to us.
Perhaps this ideology is in place so that when the prayer gets answered, there will be no doubt of the source of that answer. For example, if I pray for my cancer to be healed and then I take chemo and get radiation and the cancer goes into remission, then who gets the credit for this healing? Did God come through, or was it medicine and science that healed me?
But this is a very black and white way to look at it.
I don't' believe prayer is either/or. I believe it is both/and - medicine and science are the means God used to bring healing. But in order to realize the healing that God brought about, decisions had to be made and steps taken by them. It required an intention on their part to move towards healing.
Intention goes beyond simply seeking an outcome; it invites our active participation in realizing the desired outcome. It brings growth as we participate in the process - the journey - of moving towards a goal. It's an active approach to prayer.
Prayer might seek immediate relief of symptoms, but an intention for good health would impel choices that give the body what it needs to heal (e.g.: soup, medication) and activities that promote healing (e.g.: rest, physical therapy). But even after the immediate ailment is relieved, this intention would continue, and ensure that the body is treated in such a way as to promote continued good health.
Prayer might be for a better work environment, but an intention to be happy in your work would be motivation to develop or discover new skill sets, to continue to learn and grow as a person as you expand your own interests and enjoy whatever work environment you are in.
I believe passive prayer puts us in the same car going to the same place, but in the back seat, our heads poking out now and again to ask if we’re there yet. We’re pretty much the same when we arrive as when we left, maybe a little tired, bored, or even anxious.
I believe prayer is being in the front seat in an ongoing conversation with my driver. I believe prayer is an experience in growth, not just a means to an end. I believe prayer is about taking a journey rather than being taken on one.
I believe this is prayer.
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