Prayer in Between

There is a spectrum. Some people stand on one side and some on the other, they look across to one another judging one another.

On one side of this spectrum in the perspective that prayer must be passive acceptance of what is happening around us because whatever is happening must be God's will. God is in control and God knows what's going on. I can't change God's mind, I can't decide how things should be, I leave it up to God and simply pray that His will is done. Suffering in the world? Oh well, I guess it's God's will, Thy will be done. I pray passively, I pray without asking anything more of God than what He wants, and what He wants must be happening because... He's God.

On the other side is the perspective that prayer must be aggressive coercion. God told me to “take my requests” to him (Philippians 4:6). So I take my list to him, I decide what He wants for him and tell him what the world needs. Suffering in the world? God you’d better change it and get right on that… starting with my cousin Billy over here… Thy Kingdom come! God hears our prayers and He wants us to be quite specific so he doesn’t miss anything. I pray aggressively, I pray specifically, I pray for what I need and what the world needs and God will respond if I do it well… If He doesn’t respond, it doesn’t mean he didn’t want that for which I was praying, it just means I didn’t pray hard enough.

Perhaps Christians must pray in between. Perhaps we need to find ourselves between the two sides of the spectrum. Prayer is, as Rob Bell says, “Tapping into” God’s “creative energy.” Prayer is involving ourselves in God’s work in the world being present in mind and body within God’s mission. Prayer is not coercion but it responds actively to the suffering in the world. It’s not passive but it is openness to God’s will and readiness to act upon it. Prayer is tuning into what God is doing and opening up to what He wants. We pray “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done!” recognizing not only the need for God’s Kingdom to come into the world but also the fact that God truly wants His Kingdom to come. We stand in between saying, “I am ready to do your will and I know that You want to respond to the suffering in the world, but not my will but yours be done!”

Prayer is between passivity and coercion. Prayer is tapping into God’s creative energy and opening ourselves to His will.