Our church is journeying in prayer this month. Our preaching series is “Questions of Prayer,” which aims to be honest about questions we share about prayer and give us orientation points for our praying. An optional step past Sunday morning is working through Steve Harper’s book, Talking in the Dark: Praying When Life Doesn’t Make Sense.
With this post, I’ll begin highlighting some quotes, insights, and ideas from Chapter 1: The God Problem.
Steve begins the chapter bluntly: “Let’s face it: the number one problem we have with prayer is God. When our prayers seem to go unanswered, our first thought is, Why didn’t God answer?” (p. 21)
Both in bible stories and our stories, we encounter the “why” question.
- Why are some healed and others aren’t?
- Why did God allow that natural disaster to occur?
- Why didn’t God stop that person from committing such evil?
- Why was one person spared, seemingly miraculously, while others were not?
Here’s a good, simple insight into the biblical stories that involve the “why” question. Steve writes, “Every ‘why?’ passage in the Bible indicates that the person or group did not understand; they were living with mystery and had to pray in the midst of it. In fact, they wove why? into their praying. We must not miss that fact.” (p. 25)
The Psalms are a marvelously raw example of this. Sure, we’ve got the confidently exuberant Psalm 75 (“We praise you, God…people tell of your wonderful deeds”), but we’ve also got the decidedly downcast Psalm 74 as well (“O God, why have you rejected us forever?”).
Steve continues, “We may not understand what’s going on, but God know that we cannot pray authentically unless we can honestly express every thought and emotion. …In this regard, the apostle Thomas has become my hero… Thomas’s acknowledgment of his doubt was the first step on his way back to God—not away from God.” (p. 25)
Question: What would weaving why? into your praying look and sound like?