Why Pray? – 1

“When a doctoral student at Princeton asked, “What is there left in the world for original dissertation research?” Albert Einstein replied, “Find out about prayer. Somebody must find out about prayer.”

  1. Does prayer change the mind of God? If so, can He still be God?
  2. Does my prayer change anything? Why pray?
  3. Am I praying effectively?
  4. If God is ultimately Sovereign, should that change how I pray?


Much smarter minds than me have tackled this mystery called prayer, and made limited progress. And I get it – the bottom line is that we all should just focus on what really matters most – love God, and love others. But these questions that have plagued me for years, and I must land on some type of solid footing. I must gain a toe hold in this Faith Mountain that will allow me to rest and refocus for the next leg of the assent.

Philip Yancey is one of my favorite writers. His style speaks to me. Yancey’s books are filled with complex layers of truth (some evident, some hidden) but all are embedded within a painted canvas filled with colors and shapes that come alive. He released Prayer, Does It Make A Difference in 2006. I knew I needed to read it…starred at it on the shelves of my favorite book stores for a year…even ordered it into my little church bookstore to keep it close to me.

So in my quest for answers ON prayer, the Holy Spirit confirmed to me that was going to be one of the tools, along with Scripture, that would help me. Over the next few days or weeks its all about prayer for me. My soul longs for answers. I’ll break down each chapter and journal the highlights here. Your comments are encouraged – you help me grow. So here we go – what follows in bullet form are direct quotes from the book:

  • Prayer is universal because it speaks to some basic human need. As Thomas Meron put it, “Prayer is an expression of who we are…We aer a living incompleteness. We are a gap, an emptiness that calls for fulfillment.”
  • Advances in science and technology no doubt contribute to our confusion about prayer. In former days farmers lifted their heads and appealed to Heaven for an end to drought. Now we study low-pressure fronts, dig irrigation canals, and seed clouds with metallic particles. When a child fell ill the parents called out to God; now they call for an ambulance or phone the doctor.
  • Where does God fit into a life that already seems behind schedule?
  • If prayer stands as the place where God and humans meet, then I must learn about prayer.
  • Most of my struggles in the Christian life circle around the same two themes: why God doesn’t act the way we want God to, and why I don’t act the way God wants me to.
  • Prayer is the precise point where those two themes converge.

Hurry God. I need answers, fast. You know…on my time schedule. I don’t have long to solve this thing. I have a busy day….

…God, help me.


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