The “power of prayer…” I often wonder what different people attribute to the word “power” here, particularly in the case of “prayers of petition.” When we are asking something of a Higher Power / God. What power do we have? Ask and ye shall receive… Surely we cannot receive everything we ask for. Does it come down to some sort of bargaining power that depends on how “good” we are? Or, how many people ask for the same thing?
What power do prayers of petition have?
Cutting a deal with God? “Grant me this, God, and I’ll never/always…”
“Heal Johnny, Lord…” And if Johnny heals, our prayers were answered. And if Johnny doesn’t,…??? Not enough people prayed? Not enough people in God’s favor – who are “good” – prayed?
I’m troubled by whether prayers of petition aren’t bargaining, or what their real purpose is, though my heart doesn’t let me refuse anyone who asks for prayers.
For me, authentic “power” is a transcendent mystery. Stripped of mystery, prayer doesn’t seem very powerful. We know God seldom answers petitions as we mean them. People say, God answers them in ways we might not expect (or at least recognize for some time). God forbid we leave the All-Powerful looking defenseless:)
Fundamentalism fails to demystify mysteries, thank God.
We sign petitions with the hope that if there are enough signatures, the request will move the grantor to grant it. Are prayers of petition our collective bargaining with God? That would be absurd, but I wonder.
Here is a folksy and enjoyable author who retains the mystery by simplifying it, which normally bemuses me. “Fundamentalizing” things has appeal to the simple, but I’m a hot mess who prefers to confer power to the mysterious, not simple. Yet the simple, cute, mysterious ending is worth the long read: https://seandietrich.com/quiet-places/
Neil D. 2021-06-25