We’ve now spent two days talking about prayer-hedging, and the fear that asking for the wrong thing in prayer will bring down God’s wrath on our heads.
At the worst part of this mindset, I treated God as GOD, Incorporated. Like any good employee, I’d go to God with the solution to the problem, not the problem. At work, I’d never have gone to my boss and whined that the copier wouldn’t work. Instead I’d diagnose and trouble-shoot the copier, and then when I had a good diagnosis, I’d approach the manager and explain the problem and suggest a solution.
In my spiritual life, I’d figure out what I thought would solve a particular problem and then approach GOD, Incorporated with an action plan. It wasn’t that I wanted the thing I was praying for, but it was the thing that made sense to me would solve the problem. Usually the lowest-impact, lowest-cost solution. Sometimes with unintentionally hilarious results.
This is my blog, so you get to laugh at me here. My mother-in-law required outpatient surgery a few years ago, but none of her children could get to her in order to help her out at home until twelve hours after the hospital planned to discharge her. (Don’t ask why the surgery wasn’t rescheduled. No one could answer that even then.)
I knew she’d need help for those hours, so what did I pray? A stupid prayer: “God, what I need you to do is make it so that for some reason, they have to keep her in the hospital for another 12 hours until her son can get there, but I don’t want her to be hurt, so how about if there’s some kind of equipment malfunction? Then they have to keep her overnight for legal reasons while they straighten it out.”
The actual answer to that prayer, after God finished wiping tears of laughter off His Holy Cheeks, was that she came through the surgery better than any patient the doctors had ever seen. In fact, she had no problem getting around her house for the twelve hours until her son was able to arrive. My answer would have worked, though it was ridiculous. God’s answer was better.
It took a lot of work to back me down from the problem-solver approach. But it made sense when dealing with GOD, Incorporated. Not so much sense when dealing with God the Father. :#)