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CHURCH CORNER: Remember, we are partners with God
The other day, I had just finished a household task and my youngest daughter beat me to the punch. She said “Got that done!” We both laughed because that is often what I say when some job is completed. It’s a way of mentally crossing one more thing from my daily chore list.
In a similar way, my prayers sometimes resemble “checklist” praying to God. Often, I am in a hurry to get ready for work or to tackle the endless household projects that are part of keeping up a home. So I run through my morning prayer thanking God for my many blessings and going down my list of requests. Amen! Now I can move on to the next thing in my day. It has occurred to me that I am dumping a lot on God “to just fix things.” The “checklist prayer” gets me off the hook, instead of taking some responsibility for what I can do in partnership with God.
The phrase in the Lord’s Prayer that says “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” suggests that we are to be actively working toward making life on earth more like God intends it to be. There is a book entitled “Becoming the Answer to our Prayers” written by Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. In this book there is a statement worth considering: “Prayer is not so much about convincing God to do what we want God to do as it is about convincing ourselves to do what God wants us to do.”
A friend of mine just shared a story about prayer in her life. She is a recovering alcoholic. She prayed and prayed that God would take away the craving for alcohol. Then she realized that she needed to overcome the craving herself so she asked God to give her the strength to resist the craving. She smiled and said now “I no longer have the craving.” It’s not that she shouldn’t ask God for help, but that she asked God for help to do something she needed to do.
There are many possible reasons why we get stuck in prayer that just asks God to do it all, i.e. the checklist prayer. We may be busy. Or we procrastinate on taking actions that we can do. One very strong possibility is fear; what if we have to move outside of our comfort zone to respond to what God asks us to do.
Maybe we are supposed to visit a shut-in and pray with them or do some chore they cannot do themselves. Or, on a bigger scale, you might go on a mission trip to some other country and face long travel, different food and poverty beyond what you can imagine. It has been the experience of many who do get out there to do these things that they are the ones that are enriched as well as those whom they help. I have known people who return to do more in missions or who feel their lives are enhanced by visiting shut-ins.
It’s not that we are to assume all of the load for what we pray. After all, we are not God. Asking God for comfort, forgiveness and help with our daily lives is what we are supposed to do and to do so frequently. However, we are partners with God; we do have a responsibility do what we can to make our world a better place.
“Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39).
Written by Cindy Ehlke, Calvary Presbyterian Church