Sidewalk Theology: Questions I Get Asked a Lot #2

Originally posted on Tuesday, January 19, 2021. Click here to view original.

Q: Does God get anything out of prayer or is it just a bunch of noise for Him?

From your good question I can tell you suspect prayer is a personal thing for God. Your suspicions are a direct hit on an aspect of prayer that has been missed - even by those who see value in it and have done a lot of it.

From the Bible and a little bit from experience, my impression is that God loves prayer because it's a relationship thing. He loves being in relationship with His creation, especially when it's with others, like Himself, who can make real, free decisions that have real consequences.

Within Himself, God is a thriving, vibrant relationship of Father, Son and Spirit and recasting the familiar first words of the Bible, "In the beginning, God" as "In the beginning, Relationship" isn't far from the mark. It's a Relationship of perfect love and harmony that only gets better with the enlarging of the relationship circle. The more free beings who are in it, the better it gets. Jesus' request in John 17:21 meant something, "Father . . . let them (you and me) be in Us." Wow! We don't become what God is - don't get carried away, but we are included in that Relationship somehow. Double Wow! That's why all the New Testament talk of being "in Christ" and also why God prefers calling us children over servants and there's more Bible talk of adoption and family than justification and duty.

"God is love" only makes sense if we first recognize that God is a Relationship and not as a solitary. A solitary could not not be described as love because love needs an object and the best kind of love is mutual and fully reciprocal. Remember junior high crushes on someone who didn't crush back? That stunk, didn't it? You can't experience love that's worth much if you're a stand alone. It will only drive you crazy and make you write bad words on somebody's locker.

"God is love." Since love is God's nature and He loves relationships, God finds prayer/conversation useful, meaningful, interesting and consequential. He wants to participate.

One more thing: God is a one-of-a-kind Relationship who can simultaneously carry on billions of consequential conversations with people in every imaginable developmental, emotional, intellectual and spiritual state - pristine saint to debauched, boozing lech - and remain fully engaged with each one, actively arranging the best possible outcome every time for everybody. In most cases He is more fully engaged than the earnest saint or much more earnest boozer could ever hope to be.

The temporal outcomes of His involvement with us in prayer are better than can be imagined in many cases and the eternal outcomes are better in all cases. He does it all flawlessly even if our comprehension and perspective is blurred by bad information, irritation, fatigue or inferior, misplaced expectations, He flawlessly upholds His end. Now, here's the kicker, kids. While carrying on a thriving, loving, completely satisfying Relationship within Himself, He never takes His hands off the wheel of an ever expanding universe, all the while caring for you and me and Aunt Minnie. And the sparrows.

That is our God. Amazing.

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