How should I pray?

Should I pray, petition, plead ?

The question has been on my mind these past few days.  A  loved one in pain has been asked to do a full bone scan to check for recurrence of the dreaded C cell.  Yes, Cancer.

It was discovered early and she was operated 18 months ago.  Everything  seemed fine but this pain and the doctor’s request has me worried.  Should I just trust that God the Healer and Loving Father will surely take care of his child?  Or should I pray, petition and plead for healing?

The answer depends on who I conceive God to be.   “Who do you say I AM?”  A benefactor who answers our petitions?

I did not ‘petition’ God when options of a stent or a bi-pass seemed likely, though I did tell him I was sorry for neglecting my health.  Was there an unspoken plea in my heart  that he answered so I  “bi-passed”  (pun intended !!) all surgical interventions?

Perhaps my heart prayed even though I did not consciously pray and petition God.  I hardly ever “ask’ for anything.


I’m not sure I have the answer.

Perhaps I have come to a realisation that most of the time I do not know what is good for me, or for others.  I know this from personal experience when I literally prayed for my will – not His – to be accomplished.  I wanted something someone really badly and after seven years of pleading, my prayer was answered.  And I got married.   Then it did not work out and I distanced myself from God,  putting all the blame on Him for not making my marriage work.  All I wanted, sincerely, was to have a true Christian marriage.  It turned out I had a civil marriage but not a Christian marriage.  Ironically, I had left Christ out!  We loved but not IN CHRIST.   The marriage was annulled.  And through a sacred conversation with God I was taken to a place of recognition that “Your happiness comes from doing my will”.

It is only as I search for answers, write, that all this comes flooding back.  The reason why I do not pray unceasingly any  more  for things I want is SIMPLE:  I really am not sure that I know what is good for me, for others, for our eternal destination.

Yes, there are instances when I do storm heaven. Like the time I knocked down an eighty year old woman one Easter Saturday.  She was tossed into the air and landed on my windscreen, shattering it  and leaving the imprint of her ‘konde’  (hair knot) on it.  Shattered myself,  I put my head on the steering wheel and called on God to “trade in” any good that I had done in my life so that the woman lives. (Yes, that’s how I prayed !!) I just could not face my future if I had killed a person.  So intent was I in my prayer that the crowd who gathered had taken the woman to the hospital, and assumed I was either unconscious or dead over the steering wheel.  They were trying to figure out how to reach me through locked doors when I opened my eyes.

An angel passing by accompanied me to the Police Station.  The potential charge – Homicide!  Nobody thought a frail eighty year old woman would survive THAT!  I continued to pray for mercy – for her, but mostly for me.  And mercy was shown.  Amazingly,  there was not even a scratch on her body.  Undeniably a miracle  just for me.   I pleaded with all of me … and He answered.

And still I hesitate to plead?  

I love writing as it helps to clarify my mind.  Just writing that down I realised … the question should be re-worded to “And still I hesitate to pray for miracles.”  Or modify it further to  “And still I hesitate to pray for  ‘supernatural intervention’ in day-to-day affairs.”

When I was young I used to pray for everything:  Lost items, exam results, parking slots, relief from flu, lecturers to turn up late so I would not be late (!!);  for God to erase from someone’s mind an unkind deed of mine  …  to tell someone I had not meant any harm,  or to plant in someone’s heart words of apology or love that I did not say   ….  you name it.  I was forever asking God to intervene in my life.   Even now,  I may whisper ‘Lord, I hope I am not late’  but it is more a wish than a prayer.

I have come back full circle to where I started. I wish for healing for my loved one … but I am not on my knees pleading.   I feel God will take care of it without my begging for his intervention – for He loves her more than I do and will surely take care of her?

Is that surrender and  trust? Or complacency and compliance with anything that happens? Since this world is not our home, should we pray for things of this world?

A few minutes ago I received my an nswer to this question that has been troubling me.  In his book “The Jesus I Never Knew”,  Yancey comments:

When I speculate about such imponderables as the problem of pain or providence versus free will everything becomes fuzzy.  But if I look at Jesus himself, at how he treated actual people in pain, at his calls to free and diligent action, clarity is restored.  I can worry myself into a state of spiritual ennui over questions like “What good does it do to pray if God already knows everything?” Jesus silences such questions:  He prayed,  so should we.

‘Search and you will find.’  The thought rose to mind as I found the answer I was seeking, or what I was seeking found me as Rumi interpreted it.

I picked up my Bible to read up  the phrase:  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  (Mathew 7.7).  I read on and come to a  dead halt at verse 11:  “If you then being evil know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.”

Right.  Clear as daylight.  I cannot  fathom the mind of God.  I should not just say he is God he will take care of it.  That’s not who THIS GOD is.  For some mysterious reason this God incarnated in Jesus Christ seems to want us to pray, to talk, to communicate with Him. to ask Him for what we want.  Like little children before the Father.   To be in touch!  I think that reason is LOVE.  That is reason enough.  It is reason enough for me right now to pray, petition, plead. 

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3 thoughts on “How should I pray?

  1. Pingback: My Aunt Lorraine | Rambling Rose

  2. I remember once praying as you said, ‘with all of me.’ In the greater scheme of things it was an unimportant thing (nothing serious like in your case) but for me personally it was wholly important. It was something that seemed so far away at the time, yet a few days later, I received what I had prayed for. I was totally incredulous. I thanked God and still remember it occasionally, thanking Him for it. There is a lesson there somewhere. Thanks for writing as you do. I love theology and Jesus related blogs.


    • Yes … many times God surprises us with the ‘incredulous’. Was reminded of this today (“Bible Jesus Read) by Philip Yancey. His writing is truly inspired. He points out that God has it out with loud complainers like Job, Jeremiah etc; engages Abraham/Moses in lengthy arguments and sometimes lets them win. … and what we say/do/think has enormous effect on God. In is words “The Sovereign Lord of history allows people to exert an influence on him, just as he exerts influence on them” I found that awesome. I too love theology and Jesus related blogs. Did a degree in theology a couple of years back and will start posting soon. Have been trying sort technicalities of WP. Thanks for dropping by and taking time to comment.


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