I was taught that God was my heavenly Father who cared about me in real-time and who wanted to hear from me. I was taught that prayer was powerful and accomplished things.
I was also taught to pray about almost everything that came up in my life, seeking God’s wisdom, His direction, and ultimately God’s will for each situation. I believed that if I could make a choice that matched God’s will for me, then everything would turn out well for me.
Prayer hijacked my ability to analyze and arrive at a logical choice. Prayer was substituted for both thought and action.
Because I thought that prayer WAS action. So instead of learning how to gather all information from the best sources that I could, then analyzing my information, and making the best possible choice that would support me, I learned to pray, read my Bible, look for ‘just the right verse’ that jumped out at me. I would also do the thing that ‘felt right’ to me. So by this method, I stumbled through my life, assuming that God was ‘opening or closing doors’ for me. Not too dissimilar from staggering through a maze, and walking through whatever door happened to open for me. I would assume whatever circumstance worked out, must have been God’s will for my life.
Wow. . .how sad!
Hebrews 4:14 – 16 teaches the following. . .
“ 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Source: Hebrews 4:14 – 16
While James 1:5 promises “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” Source: James 1:5
I replaced real information gathering, real planning with praying to an invisible God, asking for His wisdom. I assumed that when I found a ‘supporting verse’, favorable circumstances combined with feeling ‘peace’ was the correct way to make decisions for myself and my family. This was how I discerned ‘God’s will’ for our lives! Could it have been any worse had I chosen a random stranger on the street and asked him to make choices for me?
Prayer is NOT action. Prayer is pretending to speak to an imaginary god while believing that this imaginary creature will miraculously give you knowledge and insights even beyond your abilities. And God will answer your specific prayer. Or, another interesting paradox (theological contradiction?) is asking the God of the entire universe to change His plans to accommodate your requests! If God already knows all, then if He did answer your prayer, did He actually change anything, or was that part of His original plan? And if answering your prayer was in fact part of His original universal plan, then do you really have any power to impact the Almighty by praying?
I learned replace inaction with prayer and think I was taking action. How deluded was that?
And worse, by extension, I learned to equate thinking about something, dreaming about doing something with actually gathering information, planning specific actions to take on a time schedule, then taking the needed actions to achieve my plans!
A dream is not a plan! Praying is not action!
And I am in my late fifties just now figuring this out. Damn.