The Rev. Paul Gray, senior pastor, New Life in Christ, 31st and Louisiana streets:
Since before creating anything, God (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) have always wanted to express their love to us — their family — in relationship with us. They have always existed in community, and they have always wanted to include us in their divine Triune circle dance of love and joy and peace and everything that is good.
To ask if the purpose of prayer is to inform or conform is to miss the whole concept of what God gives us — which is a relationship with Him. His purpose for our lives is to relate to Him.
Relationships involve communication: talking, listening, hanging out, loving and being loved, knowing and being known, serving and being served, celebrating and being celebrated. In the process of relating, each other will be informed of feelings, thoughts, fears, joys, hopes and concerns. If it’s a healthy relationship, neither person will hold back or hide anything; they’ll share everything, warts and all. That’s what God wants us to do with Him.
In human relationships, we tend to think “if the other person knew all about me — my darkest thoughts and my past deeds and my struggles and sins — they wouldn’t like me, let alone love me.” However, God wants us to know that just the opposite is true with Him. He already knows everything about us — and He has chosen to not only love us, but like us, and wants to be with us 24-7. And that’s the example He sets for us with each other. It’s called grace.
When you know someone — warts and all — and choose to not only like but love them, then you both experience real life.
Prayer is not something God wants you to “do.” God wants a love relationship with you!
— Send email to Paul Gray at email@example.com.
The Rev. Robert Leiste, pastor, Redeemer Lutheran Church, 2700 Lawrence Ave.:
There is an often-asked question: if God knows everything about us, why do we have to ask, or pray? Do we pray to browbeat God into getting our way? Or do we think that the more people pray for us we will be given the gift we seek by a wise and loving God? I think not.
Look at prayer like this, is it to inform or conform to God? Do we not build our lives around God’s word and how we should live according to it? Does God’s word tell us about God’s love shown to us in his Son Jesus Christ by telling us all that Jesus has done for us in his life, death and resurrection?
On the basis of this love, in faith we go to God in prayer with the concept that we want a loving God’s will done in our lives as we make our way through this most imperfect world.
So prayer becomes not so much as informing God about us as being conformed to God and his way. This is a sign of faith when you think about it. We are seeking God’s will just as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10b).
Does this mean we will not wrestle with God’s way? Does this mean that we will not be angry with God about how some things work out? Far from it.
What will probably happen when we know prayer is about conforming, we will more than once ask, “Why?” Yet, God’s reassuring word of his love will carry the day as he works through our lives in this gift of prayer, changing us as we confront the world under the guidance of HIS word.
— Send email to Robert Leiste at firstname.lastname@example.org.