>Since I am just getting started over here on Blogger – I thought that I would transfer over one blog a day from my site. If I do one a day, I can get them lined up.
I have had the privilege that I get to hear a lot of people talk about prayer. Whether it is at seminars, in small groups or one on one I have over the last 15 years been able to survey countless people in the area of prayer.
It is my observation, as I listen to these different perspectives and experiences, that it almost seems as if there are three different gods that you can pray to.
So I’ve looked into it. It turns out there are actually three different gods that people pray to. Well, more like three different conceptions of God that people pray to.
This doesn’t bother me at all. I get it. We each conceptualize and participate in our religious community, our unique expression and with our individual experience. This is bound to produce multiple manifestations and allusions to this transcendent being or greater reality or central axis of life.
What is somewhat concerning to me is how jumbled, muddled and incoherent the mixing and amalgamating seems to be. I’m concerned that we may be approaching this with a thoughtless or careless approach. So what I would like to do is take a look at each of the three gods — or conceptions of God — individually. Then talk about how one would pray to each one of these unique constructs and address why it is potentially not helpful to mix and match gods with approaches.
The first God is the classic god. This God is transcendent, omniscient, omnipotent and all the other things we want A divine being to be. When we talk about this God we say ‘ He know the future’, and ‘God is in control’ or (if you prefer) Everything Happens for a reason ’.
The second God let’s us have free will. This is a God who somehow let’s us be flawed human beings and somehow still maintains the ability to be God. We don’t know how – it’s a mystery.This is the god of possibilities. Somehow… this God has scripted the future. He has outlined a ‘perfect will’ and somehow planned for every subsequent contingency with a ‘less than perfect will’ or acceptable will. This is a God that has accounted for everything.
Whereas the first god has ‘seen’ the future or ‘knows’ the future, this second god has scripted a preferred future – it is not necessarily going to come about exactly in the way it was designed… but this god is still able to salvage what was desired in the midst of our human frailty, fallenness and failure. (3 F words you hear all the time in with this God).
The third God can be called Emanuel – God with us. This is a picture of God who is here… in the midst of us. This is the God of the process. Who is amongst us in the midst of the moment. This is the God of presence and incarnation.
These are three different concepts of God. They are three different constructs or conceptions. We may have gotten used to mixing them or jumping between them as needed, but they are definitely three different pictures of God that come from three different stories in three different eras.
And when it comes to prayer, the differences really come to the surface!
For instance: if you believe in God #1, since he has seen the future, you pray that he might clue you in as to what the future might be so that you can get ready. Praying to this God is trusting in what is Predestined or fated. You can’t change the stars but it is comforting to know that this God knows and is in control.
If, you believe in God #2, you are praying to the God who has scripted the future so you are hoping that that He tells you what he wants from you so that you don’t miss his perfect will. You ask this God to change things. Since this God is powerful and in charge of the future, but has somehow allowed us free will.. we ask for direction, do the best we can, we have faith and we turn over the rest.
Praying to God #3 is a little different. In the world of this God, there is no future. I don’t want to get into all the technicalities of Einstein, meta-physics and cosmology but – just trust me there is no such thing as the future with this God. It does not exist. and what we think of as Prophecy is actually the Providential promise of God’s participation and an intimate knowledge of our creaturely propensities. Praying to God #3 is not to be clued in or not to miss the way, but is to be available in the moment to what God is doing among us.
This is Emanuel – God with us. This is God who is among us and when we pray to this God we are creating the future. The future is created by us participating with God’s will – which is neither like a movie that God has seen or a script that God has written. It is a plot that is currently unfolding. It is determined by our actions and participation.
You may be listening and think ‘you are making too many delineations and categories’. And I might agree with you… if it were not for the fact that when I hear people talk about God, it sounds one way – and then when they pray & it sounds an entirely different way – when we act, we behave as if god is a third way.
People talk as if God is all-powerful and all-knowing and all..everything. Then they pray that they ask this God to heal this person, change this circumstance and bless what they are doing. Which is fine if you believe in free will – but then , let’s stop talking about God as in the way the the early Greek philosophers did and get rid of all the omni-scient omni-potent and omni-present, unmovable and unchangeable talk. (5 Biggies)
I don’t believe this Greek God Theos. I believe in the God of the Hebrew narrative. This is a god who regrets, changes minds and enters in. This is the god who is here with us now! Emanuel – god with us. Not a god who was incarnate one time on the first Christmas but a God is who incarnate in his people every Christmas – every day between Christmases.
We talk as if with God things are set. Fate is written, God is in control and everything happens for a reason.
Then we pray to a God who compensates for our our free will and fallen nature by asking for things to change and bend to the ways things are and the way that we are.
We talk about about God in one way and then pray to God in a second way.
And if those were the only two options… that would be one thing.
But I actually conceive of God in a different way (a third way). This is isn’t about whether the future has been seen or scripted but about being here in the moment. This is about being the person who is available now.
Praying to god #1, for whom the future is set, is to be clued in so that we are prepared for what is coming.
Praying to god #2, who accounts for our free will, is so that we don’t miss the script and he can adjust things that don’t bring about his greatest good.
Praying to God #3 (for whom the future is not a vision or script but a possibility) is an exercise in availability – to create them and participate in things as they are becoming.
For some people, the formulations of the Dutch in 1700s really work. The all-knowing God is in control and you can trust him. Pray that you may know his will.
For others, who believe in Free Will, prayer is a powerful influence to ask the Father for his will to come on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Others of us who struggle with the thoughts of the early Greeks and superstitions of the centuries past wonder if if isn’t time readjust the way that we talk and think about God. But most of all – we want to make sure that we pray in ways that are consistent with our formulations of God.
There is no sense in talking about God one way, praying to god another and then hoping for the outcome of another.
If this was a mystery or a paradox – that would be one thing. But there is no sense in trying to cover over ancient concepts of god with modern practices and then hoping for fantastic future results.
There are mysteries in the universe. There are paradoxes to explore. But what we are dealing with is a simple incongruence between conceptions of god from different eras and inceptions.
If we talk about God in one way – Pray to God another and then behave in yet another… the incongruence will eventually catch up with us. In fact, I think that it has for many people and this is why some have given up and gone a different way. Others have become disgruntled and bitter. Others have stuck with but are a little bit bored and disinterested.
This is obviously a huge concept and a massive conversation – I just wanted to introduce the idea that they way talk about God and the way the pray and the way that we live may be 3 totally different ways.
and I am not sure that is working so great for us.
We will obviously return to this in the New Year –
May the God of peace guard your heart and mind as we travel the road together.
If you want to listen to the Podcast instead of read this : PODCAST LINK