First Words

Prayer without answers

The main purpose of prayer is to enjoy God.

Does prayer work? That’s the question many people ask when they perceive that God is not answering their prayers. Other questions surface too. Is prayer worthwhile? Does it change anything? Am I talking to myself? Does God care about my prayers?

I propose that we radically alter the way we talk about prayer by eliminating the use of the word answer from our references to prayer outcomes. The word doesn’t fit well conceptually, and it encourages an interpretation of prayer that leans heavily toward self-interest. Prayer is not mostly about us.

At its most fundamental level, prayer is conversation with God, and conversations aren’t about answers. They engage a relationship. They involve give-and-take and the sharing of company. Deep conversations inspire curiosity and promote discovery. They foster honesty.