What is the perfect time to pray
Prayers: Does God Help When We Pray?
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When I was five, I learned a sentence from the Bible, from James: The prayer of the righteous can do much when it is sincere. As proof, the author tells of the prophet Elijah. He prayed it wouldn't rain, and Israel stayed dry for three and a half years. Then Elijah prayed again, and the heavens gave rain and the earth bore fruit. It taught me at a young age that we could influence God through our prayer. So: He acts when we pray. And only when we pray. I do not believe that. No more.
For a child of kindergarten age, the epistle of James is quite demanding food! Especially in combination with the prophet Elijah! Did your legal guardians also tell you about the prophets of Baal who were slain by Elijah? The effects of these biblical texts on child souls could be an interesting psychological research task! At that tender age they taught me that God would listen to me everywhere and always. I also kept this childlike belief as an adult pastor and private lecturer in practical theology. Fortunately! But you also told me at the time that God does not fulfill every prayer. I even understood that at the age of five through my own practical experience. The silver ring that my aunt gave me and that I buried in the sandpit while I was playing, I never found it again despite praying. God is not a Prayomat who fulfills my wishes. And I get very suspicious when prayer is branched out. There is value in prayer.
I remember being put on a chair and having to recite by heart. The preschoolers learned only five verses from the Bible, the older ones more. And it wasn't until later that I noticed the stories of Elijah how bloodthirsty they are. At that time I found it righteous that God and with him the good prevailed. With the sentence from the Epistle of James, it was the "serious" thing that got stuck in my head. But since my studies I have wondered what the prayer of the righteous can do. And with whom. What and who does it change? Does things go differently when I pray? Does the fate of others depend on me praying? And what does "seriously" mean? Does a superficial, a selfish prayer have no consequences? Lutherans and Catholics believe that a sacrament works "ex opere operato", that is, it depends on the execution and not on the strength of faith on the Richter scale, which is open to the top. Jews believe that the performance of prayer is important, and not so much the attitude I take on it. That I do - that is my responsibility. But I don't use it to decide about others.
Could it be that you are praying with the foam held back? That you don't really trust your prayer from the start? I lack passion in your approach! Perhaps it is because you found your way into prayer with the letter of James. If I have to keep asking myself whether my prayer is really serious, I may lose the obvious in talking to God. The danger is then that I will censor myself when I pray.
For me, prayer is the unique, wonderful, exhilarating way to talk to God - like a friend or a loving mother. Sometimes that's just a sigh, a quick thank you for getting through my day well. Sometimes it is a passionate pressure when I absolutely want to achieve something for myself or for people I love. When my best friend was terminally ill, I prayed like this. I would have found it unbearable if I hadn't been able to pray during this time.
My friend himself also prayed so vigorously, then in despair when he felt that our prayers were not being fulfilled. At last he prayed to be allowed to die. I am sure that our fate depends on our prayer, simply because it changes me and others - and with it our fate.
Braked foam? Maybe. Sometimes I actually think that God has more important things to do than take the waves from my wavering feelings. Of course, I pray when my loved ones are in danger, when I hear of refugees drowning, or when things are unfair. And I also thank him for his clever policy when I succeed in a report or when things develop in a friendly manner. Here, too, it is important to me that I do it to remind myself that God is behind it. That's why I also pray at the table, and not just at home, but also in the restaurant.
Fortunately, God has given me a basic cheerfulness that has never left me. To this day I do not know whether that is faith or simply a sunny disposition. Anyway, it's a great gift. Is that why I don't get intoxicated when I pray? Neither have I been able to share the impartiality of evangelical friends who keep records of when and where God answered their prayers. For them, the answer to prayer is when it turns out well. They said that with our prayer we move the arm of God. What I think most important is your sentence that praying changes me. I'm with Herbert Grönemeyer: "We're embarrassed and we laugh, and it hurts a little too, and I wish you luck. I agree, the way it is, it's good." For me, that is the most serious thing about prayer: not that God submits, but that I learn to submit. Why should God change others when I pray? I find that almost invasive. Maybe they don't want that at all.
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