Monday, July 26, 2010

Praying for Things

I've found myself with an odd question. I've always believed that prayer matters. In fact, I believe that prayer works miracles sometimes, not win-the-lottery kind of miracles, but save a life kind of miracles. Throughout my life, I've been in situations where there were some very important things up in the air (for example, finding childcare in a new state where I'd moved to start graduate school). I knew nobody and had limited financial and local resources. What did I do? I prayed, and then I took a leap of faith. I have often prayed to God for guidance, strength, the ability to make the right decision, or for the simple care and protection of my family. He has always answered those prayers.

Where I find myself at odds is that I also believe that God has a plan for me. I believe He knows how my life will unfold, despite the fact that I make my own decisions. I might be the one to choose the path, but He always knows what path that will be. Given these two sets of beliefs, it makes me wonder about the impact of praying for something specific, like a job. My interview tomorrow is for a job I would very much like to have (assuming a campus visit didn't turn up something awful). It's in my field, it's in a location where we could be reasonably happy, and we'd be relatively close-ish to my family. I'd love to have this job. But, can I really ask God to help me get this job? Does He answer prayers like that? I don't think so.

I think God has a plan for me, and it may or may not include this potential job. If it doesn't, then it seems like it would be silly for me to pray that I get this job. Now, I can totally see praying for strength and composure and all the things that would help me give a fantastic interview. But, something like "Please, God, let me get this job!" doesn't sound like something He wants to hear. What are your thoughts on prayers of this sort?


Anonymous said...

I totally get what you're saying. And I agree, for the most part. I don't think God is going to give you the job just because you asked for it, not if it isn't already part of his plan. I don't think the plan is set down to the last detail, though. I tend to think of providence more in terms of shape and direction than specifics.

I also came across this verse last year that made me rethink my stance on praying for specific things:

James 4:2-3

2You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

I've been spending more time trying to discern what I should pray for and then praying for that. Because while this says that we ask and don't receive because we ask for the wrong things for the wrong reasons, it also says we are disappointed and don't have what we want because we try to get it ourselves and don't ask God for it. That really struck me.

Lisa Dunick said...

I dunno- Since having kids, I've really stopped believing in prayer as anything more than a way to give thanks or to center yourself spiritually.
I have a hard time praying for things to happen, mostly because I just don't think it works. But that's just me.
I think if praying helps, go for it, though.

Intlxpatr said...

We are told to pray for all things, even tiny small things. But sometimes, as you said, the answer is no, and sometimes the answer is yes, but with God's timing, so like 20 years down the road, LOL. There is no harm in asking.

And what is prayer? In a way, your blog entry was a prayer. He knows your heart, and you have shared your faith by sharing your query. You have initiated response from other women of faith . . .

He has his plans for you, and you can ask what you want. I usually add "if this be your will" and remind him I live to serve him. :-)

AcadeMama said...

Intlxpatr: Thank you, I really like that understanding of prayer...It makes perfect sense.