I heard someone ranting yesterday on the Twitter… several someones… ranting about “thoughts and prayers.” About how they’re the equivalent of air guitar. An empty gesture. Such a statement says much about the one who said it, but I did relate to his feeling. Many times if we do pray, we’ll feel like it has no effect. It’s useless. The problem with that idea is? it is categorically false. As someone I deeply respect expressed, prayer might not always change God. But it changes you. I believe with all of my heart it also changes circumstances.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. It’s either true or it isn’t.
I think honestly most people don’t know how to pray. Prayer isn’t just talking, it’s listening. That’s the piece no one really wants to practice. For if there is a God, and He does talk to you, then what He has to say to and about you might very well be disturbing. You might be scared to honestly approach Him. My thought has always been, it’s better to find out what He thinks of you now. Indeed. That’s prudent. But believing that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him, that’s where effective prayer starts.
Anyhow. I don’t presume to have all the answers. But I did hear in my heart this morning that I was supposed to study the Word and share my study. So I will and the category for it will be “Thoughts and Prayers.” Because I’m being snarky. I admit it.
1 In the beginning [before all time] was the Word ([a]Christ), and the Word was with God, and [b]the Word was God Himself. 2 He was [continually existing] in the beginning [co-eternally] with God. 3 All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being. 4 In Him was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines on in the [c]darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it]. – John 1:1-5 (Amplified Bible)
The New Testament reads like a fantasy story. We begin with the idea that there was a point at which time did not exist. There was a being called the Word. He was God and with God. Then other things came into existence through Him. A friend of mine, a very smart guy, said that Jesus never claimed to be God. I don’t know how he reads this passage and thinks that. It was written by one of Jesus’ best friends. John. John obviously thought Jesus was God and I doubt he came to that idea on his own. But in a day where creation itself isn’t generally accepted I suppose this isn’t a leap. If you reject the idea of creation, then there is no Creator.
I believe rather heartily in creation. You will never convince me that iguanas are accidents. “There was a big BANG and then we came from monkeys!” is not a more plausible theory. Sorry.
More than that, coming to the conclusion that your buddy is the Creator is off the hook. Genuine nutter territory. For John to make this statement is rather extraordinary, especially given the fact that it would have been regarded as blasphemy and landed him a death sentence. So he must absolutely believe it. He’s a Jew and he uses the word for deity here. Theos. John says Jesus was the God of Genesis by saying He is the Creator. Interestingly enough, the word used in Genesis 1 for God is Elohim. It’s plural but always used as if singular. It dovetails with this idea John presents here of at least two persons who are united in one being.
List-making is useful when studying.
-In the beginning was a God.
-God has at least two persons who are united (one being)
-All things came into being through Him.
-Not one thing was made without Him
-In Him was Life
-His Life was the light of men
-His Life/Light shines (now, it did shine and continues to shine) in the darkness
-The darkness didn’t understand it
-The darkness didn’t overpower it
-The darkness didn’t appropriate it
-The darkness didn’t absorb it
-The darkness is unreceptive to it
One person of the Creator God was the Word. This book was written by John the apostle, and he wrote another book, Revelation, where He expands on this theme and discloses who he meant by “The Word.”
In John the Apostle’s vision (Rev 19), he sees Christ returning as Warrior-Messiah-King, and “…His name is called The Word of God…and LORD OF LORDS.” (Rev 19:13, 16).
So he is referring to Jesus. Jesus is God. Jesus is the Creator. God is different than us, like an alien. He can exist outside time, and did. God is the only one that the Bible claims has done that. His being is plural. One God, more than one person.
He thought of you and made you on purpose. I’d heard that most of my life and the idea bounced off me, didn’t sink in. But I was playing with my daughter when she was small, working with play dough. I was talking to her and told her God made her. It suddenly came clear, like a math problem I hadn’t formerly been able to puzzle out, what that meant. He made me. He made her. When you create anything, you must see it clearly, in all its parts. You make choices. You work, crafting. Every bit of me was made on purpose, thought about.
There’s a thing called Life, a force. John compares it to light.
Light helps us see, drives away fear, warms us. It beings understanding. It’s a force that cannot be felt or have an effect if you don’t have the means. Those who have no eyes or are blind might feels some of its effects, or even hear it described, but they cannot fully understand it because they have not experienced it. For them, it is useless.
He was opposed. The light shone into darkness. But the darkness didn’t understand.
It’s interesting to me that here in the first lines we see the opposition, and the picture given is a state of being unable to respond. Not having capacity.
For me, that’s the motive for the rest of the story.
Now if the Light was the light of men, the darkness must also be the darkness of men. If the light is Life, the darkness is Death. One interesting thing about darkness, it must be obliterated if light comes. But this implies a resistance, an opposition, a rejection. Whether as I believe, the darkness didn’t have capacity to accept the light, or whether it was just being recalcitrant, there you have it. Two sides exist and there isn’t a third. Just two.
Why on earth do I care?
So many times I’ll hear people say that this doesn’t matter. What you believe about creation isn’t important.
I’ll tell you why it matters to me. You’ll have to wrestle with if it matters to you on your own.
First off, if there is a God, I should be able to recognize Him. If I get that wrong when I’m praying? If I pray to the wrong God, I’ll be listening to someone or something that’s likely opposed to Him. No bueno. I’m to listen and obey. Obeying darkness doesn’t sound wise. But more than that, if I reject the Creation then John has written something untrue here and I must regard all else he says with suspicion.
God should bring clarity. Drive away fear, comfort us. He should give understanding and since He is Life, He should bring hope, energy. If speaking with Him or listening to Him causes shame or fear or condemnation, makes us feel oppressed or suicidal, we’re likely not actually listening to Him. There is another side. We’re listening to darkness. We have something obstructing our capacity to perceive. It’s why it doesn’t surprise me to hear people compare prayer to air guitar. They can’t perceive the power surrounding them, bathing them, much less interact with it. If you insist on walking with your eyes shut, light will not help you. There might be a Song playing which you cannot hear.
I do honestly think that the children of darkness can’t accept the light without help, but I also think the light is always reaching to enable those in darkness to accept it. It shines and continues to shine.
What situation do you face? Is there confusion, fear, scary projections of your imagination? Does death loom, literally or figuratively in the form of despair, hopelessness, overwhelm? Are you lost? Death comes in many forms. Starvation, drowning, burning, illness, murder, poison. Metaphorically, you could be in need and it isn’t being met, you could be unable to breathe. You could be being consumed. You could be wasting away. You could be suffering at the hands of another, whether loved one or stranger. You could have voluntarily taken in something that is hurting you.
If so, then it is good to know that these things are destroyed by the presence of the Life that created you in the first place. No darkness can withstand its presence.
A simple prayer can change it all.
Most of us remember being children and praying. Whatever we prayed for didn’t happen so we concluded there was no one listening. Or if He did listen, He said no.
I’m assuming that has happened to the person who referred to prayer as air guitar. CS Lewis actually relates such an incident in his biography. His mother had cancer and he prayed for her to be well. She died. Such a wound embitters many. We accept ideas about God from such incidents, especially if well-meaning people say “It was God’s will.”
Then He can’t be trusted.
And that’s the fundamental message of those who equate prayer to air guitar.
It’s a terrible thing to say. Death is never God’s will. He is Life and opposes Death in all forms. That’s what the Cross meant.
They forget the darkness. The opposition. Death is literally the darkness. They don’t know the story. The other book John wrote expands on this passage and it describes what he saw in heaven. It describes a war.
Why would Jesus tell us to daily pray for God’s will to be done if it is always done?
Let me put this another way before someone starts shouting Heretic.
Do you have the power of causation? Are you granted the grace of making meaningful choices? or not?
Can you choose which socks to wear? If you have the power of causation then by extension you have the power to say no to God.
Isn’t that a strange thing to pray? For God’s will? Really think about it. Here you have God in the flesh telling mere men to pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. If nothing else, it implies that His will isn’t done on earth as it is in heaven. Of course it isn’t, because men don’t do God’s will perfectly. We sin. Then following the line of reasoning out, there is some agency empowered by prayer to affect things here which is not present without the prayers of men? Is it that God can’t be trusted? Or is there more to this?
What exactly is prayer?
If it is a response, a movement in reaction to something we hear in our hearts perhaps the comparison to air guitar is apt. It is a form of participation.
All right. Enough for now.
My thoughts and prayers go out to you today. Wink.
If you want to learn to pray, this is the best teaching I’ve read on it.