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The Grace Project

I'm Praying, for a change

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I'm dismayed.   I’ve just put down the phone to friend of mine telling me that one of our mutual friends is 'very happy' because God has blessed him in his work. That is a fillip that I really thank God for; my friend has been struggling recently. 
So why you ask am I dismayed? I’m dismayed because my friend thinks that this shot-in-the-arm to his career is due to the fact that his church has been praying for him.   Now I believe in prayer and in the power of prayer but what leaves me nonplussed is my friend’s deduction that God blessed him because the church prayed for him.  Here’s the kicker, had the church not prayed him then God would not have blessed him.   I was left with a sense that well God might not listen to me but he sure can't ignore all of us screaming at him. Where I wonder does that leave God? 
What mental picture do we end up with when we believe that God needs to be provoked by prayer into doing good stuff to us? Leaving to one side the fact that God is love and love according to the Apostle Paul cannot be provoked I'm troubled by this kind of linearity. The idea that if we do a,b & c then God is duty bound to do d,e & f. 
We are undoubtedly called to be Intercessors but if we are going to enter into the realm of intercession then let’s get one or two things straight. Firstly, the Intercessor is not the persistent widow, banging incessantly on the door of heaven until the austere judge(who incidentally is not God) of the universe finally consents to acquiesce. Secondly the purpose of prayer is not to change God's mind about our stuff its to change our mind abut God's stuff and last (for now) it is not that God listens to the prayers of the righteous but that the prayers of the righteous consist of listening to God. 
Anyway all I’m saying is let’s not go down the road of saying that God blessed me because I prayed or we prayed. God’s default setting is that He is fixed blesser. He cannot do anything other than bless us. He's the God of the plans to prosper us and not to harm us. As a matter of fact, in Isaiah 65:24 the Lord says, "I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!" 

The challenge for us is that what we often think as a being a curse God thinks is a blessing and what we think of a blessing is a curse. The truth is that some of the greatest blessings that we’ve ever had from God are the prayers that he’ chosen not to answer. 

I don't know about you but I'm praying, for a change...