Ryan and I make an effort to come together every morning over a cup of coffee and connect about any issues or concerns we may have, and then we proceed to pray before the busyness of the day begins. Let me stress the word try in that sentence – we have good intentions; however, they don’t always pan out (especially after the birth of our 8th child!) These sessions often include prayers of protection over family, patience and understanding in our marriage, and more often than not, numerous prayers beseeching the Lord for supreme wisdom in raising our two twelve year old boys #hardwork.
Lately both of us have commented about how these prayers have begun to feel rout and monotonous as we find ourselves repeatedly praying for the same requests. Ryan recently questioned whether the act of praying is more for our benefit rather than actually being for God – to feel like we are doing something to make a difference or to feel like we are somehow moving the hand of the Almighty in a powerful way to heal a sick loved one or mend a broken relationship because “God doesn’t really need our prayers, does He?” This is personal for both of us on many levels having each prayed for specific healing for a loved one in the past but not receiving the answer we were looking for. We were instead given an answer beyond our wildest comprehension or dreams which became a complete healing unlike anything we could have even requested in those intense moments of anguish.
I didn’t have any answers to the questions so as I do with all things I don’t have an answer to, I pondered and researched. It didn’t seem to make sense that God wouldn’t need our prayers when there are numerous Biblical references supporting the act of praying such as I Thessalonians 5:17 which admonishes believers to “pray without ceasing” or other verses including these two:
Ephesians 6:18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.
Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
There are also many Biblical references to support the claim that our prayers do make a difference in our lives including:
Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
According to Scripture, prayers do have the ability to move the hand of the Almighty, but do they move His hand in a way that was already pre-determined or do we actually change the outcome of a situation simply through our prayers?
As I thought more about the issue (and it concerned me for many non-sleeping, hip hurting, 3rd trimester induced nights) I started to think that these questions might not really hold the heart of the matter at all; in fact, I believe the heart of the issue is more about our intimate relationship with our Creator – a relationship which is symbolic of Christ’s design for intimacy between a husband and wife. Overall, men struggle with prayer more than women do, and women generally are more in tune spiritually than men are. These are generalizations (please, we don’t need to go there just for the sake of arguing about something) but there are many scientific backings for this premise including the fact that women (generally speaking) are more emotional and in touch with their feelings and more communicative than men are.
Stay with me here.
Ryan doesn’t necessarily need communication like I do, but he participates in communication for a few different reasons. One, he knows it makes me happy that my husband sets aside time to talk to me; two, it grows our relationship intimately as we learn to trust one another completely, and three, if our relationship is growing intimately, it’s much easier for me to return the favor and meet his needs as a man in areas of respect and physical intimacy (aka sex). I realize it is my responsibility to provide in these areas for my husband regardless of how he acts, but the reality is, as a fallen human being, respect and sex are much easier to willingly incorporate into my relationship if my husband is meeting my needs in terms of intimacy and communication. That’s just the simple truth of the matter. When we are connecting together on a consistent basis, it makes any issue or difficult situation that comes our way easier to handle in the moment.
We’re told in Genesis 1:27 that God created man and woman in his image. It’s easy to view God in a masculine form for he’s often portrayed as a warrior, a savior, a healer, and a provider to name a few strong masculine roles. It’s more of a stretch to view God, the maker of the universe, with feminine characteristics such as emotions, feelings, and words but if you look closely, there is a strong feminine nature portrayed in our Creator showcased in the way he cared for women and children, his strong emotions in the Garden of Gethsemane as he fought with what his Father had called him to do, tears over the death of his friend Lazarus, and the way he communicated with Adam and Eve and walked faithfully with Enoch.
What if the questions have less to do with what does God do with our prayers? and more to do with what if the feminine side of God just wants us to talk to him? Tell him about our struggles, needs, and emotions? Pour out our feelings to him? As a woman yearns for her husband to talk to her, open up and become transparent, pouring out his heart to her, what if this is what God wants from us with prayer? What if that’s what prayer is really all about? Not focusing on what prayer can do for us or give to us but instead communicating with our Creator, growing intimately with him through that communication, and then benefiting from the intimacy that we experience in the relationship through the natural blessings that come our way? Blessings such as a peace that passes understanding as we walk through a trial or being able to see a difficult circumstance in different perspective, something at first deemed as detrimental and now viewed as a positive occurrence in our life because our outlook has changed through prayer? An outlook that has changed because of the consistent relationship we have cultivated with our Creator. Marriage is a metaphor for Christ’s relationship with the church, “Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church” Ephesians 5:25, and I believe it’s also a similar metaphor for how God views prayer with us, his people, his bride. As a woman yearns for her husband’s words, his emotions, and his vulnerability, our Creator yearns for us to communicate with to him, express our fears and concerns, and grow our relationship to the point where we completely trust him with our hearts and our lives.
Just keep livin!!