Class started today with an interesting statement- "the way that we pray tells us more about our theology than anything else." The central beliefs that we hold about God, both expressed and unexpressed, are most evident in the kind of prayers that we most often pray.
And then we were challenged with this question, "If I pray for a safe trip, am I more likely to be safer?" How we answer this question begins to give us insight into our God-image. I tend to think that if God has ever once in all history answered this prayer (which so many of us pray), then yes, we are more likely to get home safer. But, that tells you more about my math than my picture of God. :-) How would you answer the question?
For many of us, listening to our prayers will reveal how incredibly me-focused we are...God help me...God bless me...God give me a good day, a good test, a trip, etc, etc, etc. Without realizing it, we turn God into a cosmic traffic cop who exists to make our commute better than the world around us. What was suggested in class today was that we use prayer to help us manage the anxiety of our day more than we do to help us know God or come under his authority in our lives. This kind of praying also sets us up for an unhealthy dualism- if my prayer is "answered" and things go well, God is for me. If things go wrong, then God must be against me or angry with something I have done. Our professor told a story about praying as a child for a snowstorm so school would be canceled. The next day, sure enough, the ground was covered and school was axed. But later that day he heard about a family who had died on the roads because of the snow- and he felt responsible!
Here's where the rubber really meets the road: we will worship the God we imagine, and this is the God we introduce to others! How often do we get involved in selling an image of God that will make your life better? If you read between the lines, this is often our appeal to Christ- come to Jesus and your life will get better. Really? Is that really who God is?
So, I ask you- if you pray for a safe trip, are you more likely to arrive home safely? Why?
Let the discussions begin...