God is not a wish fairy.

I read a lot of blogs. I love me a blog.

And I remember that a while back I read the story of a woman whose husband had left her and the children.

Clearly, very sad.

But this woman was making her children pray and pray and pray. Telling them that if they prayed hard enough, then God would make sure that Daddy came back.

Holy crap.

Is that really how people view their relationship with God? Because if so, then we have a problem.

So I wonder;

What do people actually think will happen when they pray, or when they ask others to pray for them?

(This is point 500 of things that I don’t understand; this whole praying thing.)

You see, I don’t think that God answers prayers.

If I think too closely about the concept of God actually answering selected peoples prayers, then he becomes merely a capricious and manipulative wish fairy, giving rewards to those who are able to word things most persuasively, or those who are able to mobilize enough prayer warriors to make their message a shout rather than a whisper.

Honestly, does God view the child with cancer who has a whole church praying for them more favourably than the child sex slave in Cambodia who has become a non-person; that no one knows exists?

So, what is prayer?

Is it telling God what we are doing? Doesn’t he already know?

Is it hoping that he will stop bad things happening to us? Is he that easily manipulated?

Is it to call him Glorious, Majestic, the King of Kings? Does his ego need bolstering that much?

Are these the reasons for prayer?

If so, then I’m happy to stay an agnostic.

But how about this- prayer as a conversation. As a meditation on our place in the Universe and our relationship to God.  No ulterior motives of manipulation or over the top flattery. Just genuine contemplation and reflection.

Now that’s the kind of prayer that I can become involved with.

What do you think?

8 thoughts on “God is not a wish fairy.

  1. Giving voice to things that I’ve thought about a lot. Thank you. Since my reference point is Scripture (perhaps simple-mindedly so), I usually pray about things because I’m told to ‘cast all my cares before God’. I tell him I’m angry about this thing or that. I plead with him to take a sickness away from a friend or reconcile a family. In the end, I think it does more for me than maybe it moves mountains, but I do believe it’s ‘effective’ somehow. Maybe not in a scientific way, but in some kind of way.

  2. Thanks for that Brett. I’ve actually found some really interesting perspectives on this today, which have let me deepen my understanding- hopefully I’ll be able to write about it later in the week.
    And I think the ‘not in a scientific way’ comment is important. I’m really going to have to get over my need for things to be scientific and measurable.

  3. I have read all of the posts on your new blog. Not easy to just sit down and answer. You have very deep questions that would really require a back and forth conversation. Tat is, if in fact, you really desire other’s answers.
    I think that believing God exists is like a lot of things in life. If you choose to believe, which is what faith is, then God mets you and you just know that He is real. I often relate to women who have asked me how you know you are reallynon labor. Well, you just do! I can’t prove God exists, for answers I just know that he does.

    I do know that God is big enough to withstand and understand our unbelief. Because we decide he doesn’t exist doesn’t make it true. But if He does exist,
    You will know that one day. It would be good to be on the right side at that time.

    I think I am going to enjoy reading what you have to offer us. Thanks so much fo sharing. It can be a scary thing to do.

  4. Thanks for your well considered thoughts, Jennifer. I really do want other peoples perspectives; I work through ideas best in discussion, and hopefully this is a forum in which I can do that.
    I like the idea that God is big enough to withstand our disbelief. I’d hate to think that my ( sometimes irreverent) thoughts were being interpreted with anything but understanding!

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  6. I see things differently. I think God has given us humans a lot of authority and freedom – to live our life, make our choices, trash the world and ourselves, or care for them both, etc. But there are many things we are not capable of doing, or knowing, and God normally just leaves us to do what we can and choice what we will.

    Some prayer is just us asking God to do stuff or guide us in things that he can do, or knows, and we can’t. He generally leaves it to us, but sometimes he will act if we ask him. So why not?

  7. I share your frustration, that if all we think of God as is some Wish Fairy, who grants us what we want if we pray hard enough, then we have got it all wrong. That view of god is really an idolatrous view – that if we worship our god properly and please him/her then we will get good things in return and bad things might even happen to the people we don’t like.
    Prayer has to be about a much deeper relationship with the divine than just asking. Listening and just being is an important part of it.
    Respectfully, I have to say that God does answer prayer. I have been an answer to prayer in a very definite and dramatic situation. A critical and objective observer would call it coincidence – but to me there was a clear understanding that there was more at work than just good timing. In most cases, the answers if any are the kind of answers that a good counsellor will give you. That is, the answer you knew all along but were not ready to take hold of.
    I think it is absolutely wrong to ascribe our general fortune or misfortune to our prayer life or piety. The gospels are full of warnings about this. But having a closer relationship with the divine can help us make more of the gifts and opportunities that we do have.

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