Thursday, June 21, 2012

How does prayer move God?

I was just thinking…about a friend of mine in Canada who will awaken today to the horrible reality that her niece is missing. Her car has been found but she's nowhere. While this stuff is always supposed to happen to someone else or on TV…it's actually happening to my friend and her family and I find it unreal and sad in so many many ways.

There was a police report published on Facebook and I "shared" it. Another kind friend of mine also "shared" and she'd put the caption, "Let's pray her home!" to encourage Christians to pray for her. 

This is what in particular has got me thinking today.

I thought about it recently with another Facebook friend. She'd said that were it not for the fact that she can help a little girl with cancer by posting her updates and getting people to pray for her…she'd deactivate her account.

I thought about this a few months ago when my 3-year old was lost at Disney for 20 minutes.

I thought about this before, also, a long long time ago. 1998. My husband was killed on his way to work by a jackknifed tractor trailer.


I know how Christians think about it. They think that if we pray "we can move mountains". If we pray we can…change the world…by moving God to act. Right?

Well, I wonder how many other people ever stop to think about it long enough and ask enough questions to get disturbed by this. I think we have to be believing something backwards with this because…

For God to find a lost young woman…
For God to heal a 3 year old with cancer…
For God to find a lost 3 year old at Disney...
For God to prevent the death of a 29 year old man with 4 kids and a wife…

How many people, exactly, does God need to have praying?
Does this number vary depending on things?
Does He require more or less prayers for cancer than abduction?
Does He require more or less prayers for a 3-year old cancer victim than a 30-yr old cancer victim?
What is the prayer requirement difference between healing a 3-year old with cancer, and finding a 3-year old who is lost?
Does God require more or less or the same amount of prayers to find a young woman who's been abducted if she's a Christian or a non-Christian?
What does God do for people without lots of friends? What about the lonely villager in Guatemala with only a handful of friends in their own village?
Does the number change depending on the spiritual health of those praying? Does a highly righteous and very spiritual person praying count for two slovenly carnal Christians?
If non-Christians pray, too, do they even count?
How often do we need to pray? 
How long do the prayers need to be? 
Does it matter the person's spiritual condition when they pray?
Does it matter how many people are praying at the same time or is it counted over a 24 hour period? 
And, if God is not yet responding to prayers because there aren't "enough"...then...what is He doing until then? Nothing?

What I don't get is…

…why it could possibly matter how MANY people pray? God isn't like the evil mother kangaroo on "Horton Hear's a Who"…who is about to boil that dust-speck until that one last person speaks up and she hears the voices crying out on that dust-speck. God hears even the faintest whisper and even the unspoken prayers. God hears. So, what is the need for "many" people to pray? 

…is it because God doesn't WANT to help and we have to bug bug bug Him (like the person at the unrighteous judge's door asking for bread) and then once we have SO MANY people praying He finally gets up and says, "FINE! OK! I'll help now!" God's not like that!

…wouldn't healing someone or finding a lost woman based on the number of people praying be favoring the "popular" people? Favoring the people who have Facebook and Twitter? Favoring the people who have friends who "share" on those sites? Favoring those who happen to go to large churches? 

…isn't this "policy" unfair to people who have no computers? No Facebook? No Twitter with which to notify the masses that prayer is needed? Isn't this distinctly favoring the white American in the USA who can all afford computers and internet service and distinctly leaving out the dark-skinned people in Africa and other parts of the world who are poor and can't even dream of owning a computer?

…when my 3-year old was lost at Disney…did God count the heart-felt desperate prayers of the panicked mother the same as He would count the random casual prayers of strangers notified by a friend of a friend on the internet? How would that make any sense?

…if it really matters to get LOTS of people praying…then does it really happen that sometimes God just lets the bad guy kill the girl, cancer kill the child…and so forth…and His reasoning is that, "Well, you just didn't have ENOUGH people praying." You realize…that for Him to say that…He would have to be "counting". He'd have to have a number…a requirement. It couldn't be random. Like, it couldn't be that 20 would be enough in "this case" and then "50" enough in the next…God is FAIR. So, what? If God requires 100 people to pray for a lost young woman to be returned home safely and only 99 pray…He does nothing. And, He's OK with that? He feels good and loving about that? If He requires that 300 pray for the young cancer victim to be healed and only 200 pray…God feels good and loving to let that child die?
Is this only NOT making sense to me?

If I know God…and He knows me…and He is my Father…my friend…and if He is compassionate, loving, kind, and all-powerful…then if my 3 year old is lost…the only "prayer" that needs to happen to move Him to help me would be ME. Me crying out to Him, "Help!" And, He loves me. He hears me even when I make no sense when I pray 'cause I'm in a panic and can't think straight. He's going to help me! 

Wouldn't it be a huge insult to me and my friendship with Him if He said, "Yeah, I hear ya. You lost your child, I know that sucks, but, you need to get your phone out and post this on Facebook 'cause really until you at least have 50 people praying My hands are tied. Sorry."


Thinking of God like this is crazy, it's true! And, I bet most people would wanna say that no way that God's not like this…at the same time trying to cling to the belief that He needs all these prayers to "do" anything. You believe that the numbers of people praying makes a difference without all these points being true. 

So…what is it then?

Did Moses or a huge mass of people pray and move the Red Sea? 
Moses had a huge mass of people there and could have told them all to "pray" to open the sea but he didn't. Did Moses speak to God and have God change His mind about wiping out all the Israelites? Did one man, Moses, not speak one sentence (not even repeatedly) to God and have God change His mind about killing millions of people? Didn't one man, Elijah, pray for rain? Didn't one man, Elijah, pray that God would send fire down from heaven? Did God not stop the sun for Joshua? Didn't one woman reach out in the crowd and touch Jesus in order to be healed? Did not one Man hang on the cross?

Seems to me that there are a lot of instances in the Bible where God did huge things and didn't require a chorus of people repeating prayers and fasting for weeks to get it. Seems to me that most of the time God worked with individuals…like Jonah. Moses. Abraham. Isaac. Jacob. David. Mary. Jesus.

I think the modern Church just simply doesn't "know" God…at all. And, I could list some examples of things that demonstrate that right now…but…I'll skip that and say that this topic of prayer is just one more thing that the church has no clue about because we don't know how God operates 'cause we just don't know Him.

To pull this in with "child rearing"…I believe that the key to prayer isn't in numbers of people praying…but the people who are listening to God.

Think about it this way…

If God hears a prayer to find a missing 3-year old at Disney…what is He going to "actually DO". Like…God doesn't do stuff "by magic" right? So, what would He actually DO to reunite a lost 3-year old with her mama? Think about that for a second and you'll see that the number of people praying…wouldn't even effect this. God will do what He does just the same with one or one thousand people praying and what it all boils down to is how well do we hear Him? And, this is effected by the way we're trained in the crib…and on thru childhood. How responsive are we?

So, my daughter is wandering alone and scared…confused. God "speaks to her" to tell her to walk a certain direction toward people God wants to find her. Will she go or won't she? He won't "magically make her legs" move. She has to "hear" God's voice…choose to respond to it. How have I trained her? Have I trained her to believe that her feelings mean something and that she can trust her body? Have I trained her that when her body says, "I'm hungry" you trust it and give your body food? Have I trained her that when she feels awake I let her be awake? When she feels sleepy I let her go to sleep? Have I trained her to listen to her body? So, then when God speaks to her gut…does she trust it? Does she follow it? 

But, then what about the people who are the people God wants to find her…what about them? When God prompts them to "see her"…He's not going to "magically" force their eyes to go in her direction. What if they don't listen to God? What if they've been trained to be "unresponsive" to their feelings and intuitions? What if those people had parents who were unresponsive to them to teach them to "self-soothe" as babies and so they are not sensitive to their "gut"? 

What really strikes me about this is this…

The church "today" really blames God for everything. They don't believe they're blaming Him but they do because...they believe that everything that happens somehow is part of God's mysterious "plan" for our lives. When something bad happens they look skyward and cry, "Why! God! Why!" because they believe that God "did" this somehow. Some try to make it that they only believe that "He ALLOWED it to happen..." but they are still blaming God. They believe that "God is in control" and to "trust Him that He has a purpose" for whatever crap we're going thru! And, I believe this attitude in adults is all because of how we've raised up our children. We've bought the "old wives tales" and taught our children to ignore their bodies…to ignore their feelings and intuitions…we've taught children not to think and feel but to blindly comply and obey…and then we wonder why GOD doesn't DO SOMETHING when tragedy strikes.

My oldest son told me that the "ancients" (before Jesus) told a story about a man who needed rocks to build something. Rocks were too far away and the project too big so he planted trees on a mountainside. 100 years later…when it was someone else's task to be building that structure that needed rocks…those trees' roots had pushed thru the side of that mountain and broken it up. The next builder had his rocks for building because a man thought ahead, planned, acted on it, and had faith that his actions would do something. He was referred to in those days as the "man who moved a mountain". 

When Jesus said we can move mountains…He didn't mean we could get a buncha' people together to bug God and then God would "do magic" for us and "move a mountain". He meant that we have it in us, built in, because we are made in the image of God…to think, plan, act, and have faith that what we do can "move a mountain". 
But, modern parenting has pretty much squashed all of that in us. We don't move mountains because we teach our infants they are helpless. We teach them that when they're all alone and in the dark and they cry out they're on their own and that they can't do a thing to change their situation except to just simply "check out" and "go to a happy place" and wait till it's over. We teach them their voice doesn't matter and they can cry all night but no one is coming. We teach them they can't "have their own way". We teach them that when they're hungry not to trust that feeling 'cause it's not time to eat yet. We teach them to keep eating after their bodies say "stop" because that "feeling" in their body isn't anything to be paid attention to only that plate that needs to be emptied. We teach them they can't even move US let alone move God or move a mountain. 

And, so here we are…in 2012…believing that God is "in control" because we don't believe we have any control and SOMEONE has to be in control. We believe we need 1000 OTHER people to pray for our needs because we've been taught since day one in that crib that our voices aren't enough.

But, we're wrong.

God doesn't respond to us on a schedule. God does hear us. God does react when we cry out to Him...every time. God is always good. God is love. We don't need 1000 strangers to talk to God for us...He hears us when we speak no matter how softly or what time of the day or night.

It's an almost impossible thing to believe when we've been raised to ignore every drive God built into us. Almost impossible to believe God could respond to just us...just a tiny grunt...when we were babies left in cribs all alone to scream and scream and scream till we passed out from exhaustion and no one ever came. God said that how we're raised up when we're old we won't depart from it...and this is a very hard thing to depart from. It's like it never FEELS real that God hears our individual voices...even if we choose to believe that. We still think we need to have 1000 strangers also praying because we really don't BELIEVE God hears us or will do a thing if He does...

One of the most successful weapons that satan has ever had to use against God and against the Church is how we parent our babies. Gary Ezzo, James Dobson, Michael Pearl, and all the child-training gurus out there who promote the "breaking their will" type child-rearing are doing more damage to the world than any war or any plague that's ever happened in history…

It is such a huge problem I don't even know how it can be stopped…

That's what I'm thinking about today...
That's what I'm thinking about most days, actually...
Yeah, you should live with me. I'm quite the broken record.

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