patty kirk

patty kirk lying down, getting up, sitting at home, walking down the road doing deuteronomy 6:7

Sunday, March 24, 2013

cross-country in my semi-trailer

Me: So why do you think Jesus says we shouldn’t go on and on about what all we need since God already knows what we need anyway but then, immediately afterward, gives us the right way to pray, the ideal prayer, in which he has us praying for God to provide our various needs. I mean, isn’t that a contradiction?

Kris: Only if you think prayer is for God’s benefit. Which it’s not. It’s for our benefit. You know, like how he said that man wasn’t made for the Sabbath but that the Sabbath was made for man? It’s the same with prayer. Prayer, just like the Day of Rest, is for our benefit, not God’s.

Me: But how does it benefit us to pray?

Kris: Well, articulating it, putting it into words, helps us know what we think.

(He then gave me a made up example that didn’t help me—as made up examples never do—about how every time I take off cross-country in my semi-trailer it always makes him so mad and how saying that he’s mad helps him realize that’s what’s going on. There ensued a little argument in which I said he wouldn’t ever pray his anger to God—he can barely admit it to me—and he said that the psalmists and Job often prayed their anger, so it must be okay, and I said, it’s not about whether it’s okay or not but that I knew he’d never do it, that the only prayers I’ve ever heard him say were for things he needed—or wanted, in any case, and the argument ended, as our arguments generally do, with his saying, “You’re probably right.”)

Me: So, then, how does it benefit you to pray for what you need?

Kris: Because it’s good for thought. Good to say it and think about it, rather than just live from moment to moment without ever thinking about all the things you need that God takes care of.
Me: Ah.


  1. I think Kris is spot on. Prayer is for my benefit and speaking out my beliefs in some way makes it more real. A better example is saying "I Love You" the first time to your new boy friend or girl friend - you may act as though you love them but saying it makes it more real (if you are a honest person). Praying is like saying "There IS a God. I DO believe in him. I DO love him. I DO recognize that all my blessings come from him. I DO believe that he has the power to change things. I DO believe that he cares about my needs." Prayer helps me to have a right attitude before God - an attitude that affirms that he is the creator and I am merely the creature.

    1. Kirk and GerryLarry, thanks for your good thoughts. Sometimes my prayers can be so lackluster. Short. Nothing more than "help me with x" or "There's this bad situation. Please help it." But if I thought of it more as a place to work out what I think and what is true about God's power and care, that changes it.

      There's also that line in James about how the fervent prayers of a righteous person avail much. So maybe it's not just for us? Or even if it is just for us in that situation, somehow God also lets it be that our prayers avail as he works out his purposes.

    2. God has the future all mapped out and knows everything and knows what we need and what those around us need better than we do but then somehow manages to also alter the future to respond to our prayers while preserving his plans.

      He really is mind boggling and hard for me to get my arms around sometimes. It is good that he revealed himself to us through Jesus.