John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

Questioning Prayer

I'm assuming you pray. After all, studies have been done (and I could cite statistics if I weren't too lazy to do the research right now) that show virtually everyone prays now and then. But you're reading this blog which means you're probably a Christian. You probably go to church and do other Christian things, and I'm willing to bet you pray. But I have some questions.

Prayer changed for me a while back. It went from being a set time with a start ("Dear Heavenly Father") and a finish ("In Jesus' Name...Amen") and became more of a running conversation. I don't mean to give you the impression that I've ever heard God speak in an audible voice. But God spoke to me, nonetheless. He spoke in quiet ways. He spoke quite loudly on a very few occasions. Usually, he was subtle and soft-spoken, but I can tell you this: I had a conversational relationship with God for a while.

And then it stopped.

And I mean stopped.

Now, prayer feels like dropping stones from a bridge and waiting to hear them land in the water...and waiting...and waiting...and...nothing....

Professional Christians like me love to tell stories of when prayer works. Someone prayed for something very specifically, and -- miracle of miracles -- they got exactly what they asked for. Or someone prayed for protection and peace, but things got kind of dicey and they were scared, but when they remembered that prayer they were flooded with a sense of calm that could only be explained as "supernatural" and then things worked out after all!

We love stories like that.

We don't tell many stories of when someone prayed and got nothing in return.

So, let's open up this can of worms with a few questions, shall we?

When you pray, what do you pray for?

Perhaps a more foundational question is this: Why pray at all?