Tuesday, February 22, 2005

God, Can You Make George Stop Buggin' Me?

If God has given us free will, what is appropriate for us to request in prayer, for those of us who are convinced that such communication is a meaningful way to speak with God? Certainly we can choose to pray, but is it appropriate to ask God to affect others' free will as it affects us?

In other words, when one asks God to protect him from harm, is he not asking God to prevent the person who is not paying attention to the traffic jam in the left turn lane from ramming his car into mine? Is he not asking God to make sure another person doesn't cough without covering her mouth, whereby she infects me with influenza?

At one point does prayer ask too much? If God gave us free will, and "respects" it--in the sense that people are "allowed" to do whatever they want, good, bad, or neutral--then what are we doing asking God to help us with our circumstances, many of which involve the free wills of others?

It's one thing to thank God for helping you become strong enough and fit enough and smart enough to make the winning soccer goal. It's another thing to thank God for "letting you" win when the other side wants the win just as bad. That's another point: Does God take sides? In matters where there is no "good" or "bad," such as a soccer game, does God just ignore the whole winning thing all together?

In what does God intervene? Certainly, His ways are mysterious. But why "allow" so much pain, tradegy, hatred, disgrace, disease when he "could" intervene? That said, why would God look out for Great-uncle Jim who suffers from cancer but "let" a baby be killed by its drunken, rage-filled father?

What about what's important? Isn't a sick person fighting for his life more meaningful to God that whether I do well in my graduate-school exam?

Shouldn't we respect God by keeping some of our worries, our troubles, our thoughts, to ourselves?

One might answer: God can handle it all. Fine. But does anyone have any idea what our responsibility is? Isn't it to be reasonable and do the best we can? That's really all I can ask for help with, right? I can't ask God to prevent someone from killing me, can I? Or can I, because killing me would certainly be wrong?

That said, should we only pray for the morally right stuff? Nix the prayers for finishing the work project on time?

A friend of mine offers what she describes as the most apt prayer: "Thy will be done."

Perhaps that's where we should leave it.


Blogger ajmac said...

You need my brother to respond to this one. I'll pass your thoughts along to him. You're way over my head at this point.

8:33 AM  

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