Prayer is the ongoing transaction between us and God, mediated or spurred on by the Holy Spirit, with Jesus at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf. The Holy Spirit is the cutter. He makes sure the ball gets into the basket. Jesus is our elder brother who puts his seal of approval on us.
Satisfaction should come from the richness of the relationship, the fact that we share time and interchange thought, the fact that I can bask in his presence and he can complete whatever work he desires in and through me. Or just maybe make me smile from deep down in my soul as he assures me I’m his daughter.
In prayer I acknowledge his grace of which I am a joyous recipient; celebrate his greatness, submit to his majesty, surrender my will, accept my call for the season or for the day. And there’s no perfect time of day except the time we spend together. And there’s no perfect length of time except that it should be difficult to turn my attention away. And there’s no perfect way to spend the time except whatever God ordains for those moments.
And we are right to be daunted by the whole process of prayer with its mystery and its majesty.
Experiments conducted years ago on the power of prayer reveal that even when doctors and patients were unaware that they were being prayed for, patients experienced more successful outcomes than those in the control group who were not being prayed for. Prayer accomplishes feats our minds can’t even imagine, can’t even fathom although we ask for them. People we pray for with the expectation that they live, die. People we pray for with submission to their transition, live.
In the midst of life’s contradictions, we continue to wonder why bad things happen to good people and vice versa. We continue to wonder why babies are born only to die soon after. So many of our questions go unanswered regardless of our prayer. We’re mere humans and God’s ways are not our ways. And often we attribute to God’s hand those things our own evil rebellion hath wrought through systems that perpetuate injustice and cruelty without measure.
I believe if we can think of prayer as relationship transaction rather than requests submitted, answers received, yes or no; if we can embrace that prayer begins with the Lord and pulls us in, then we can relax and let God do his own thing in his own way according to his own timeline.