On praying, part 8,397.

I sent words from Proverbs to a friend.

Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good;
God probes for what is good.
Put God in charge of your work,
then what you’ve planned will take place.

My friend said, “But how?”

Here’s part of what I said:

We create plans all the time, plans that don’t work.

They don’t work because they center around us and our own view of reality. They run aground because other people exist. We cannot control other people. (We can barely control ourselves).

For example:

You make a plan. Your spouse exists. And her very uttering of anything can affect whether that plan happens.

We think, “If only I could have a bigger view, process more variables, be able to read people better, talk better, explain better.”

Then we think, “What if someone could see the interplay of everyone. See the end from the beginning.  Suggest which path might be better, which way of living might be best.”

And God, assuming that he is who he says he is, is that someone.

But with God, the starting point isn’t that I plan and then say, “Hey God. Make this work.” Or even “Please please please make this work and I’ll be indebted to you forever.”

The starting point is, “So, God, you know where you want me to end up. Even better, HOW you want me to end up. You know the kind of person that you want me to be so that, at the end, I’m more like you. Today I need your direction. About this decision, I need your direction. More importantly, I need to know the values you are using, God, so that I use those as my values so that I end up with the choices you’d make.”

And then never say “amen.”

11 thoughts on “On praying, part 8,397.

  1. Chris Bowser

    Wow…sounds a lot like our recent prayer and discussion. We sought God’s will in that situation and God let us know HIS decision. This freed you and me to go forward without feeling guilty. Thanks for the time and your friendship…cbb


    1. Jon Swanson

      it’s funny, Ellen. I almost never say “amen” in the conversation turns that Nancy and I have. I often don’t even sign my name in emails with friends. I think that “amen” *can* separate the prayer from the living. And as Rich gets to in the next comment, there can be an ongoing conversation. On the other hand, amen is an assent, saying, in essence, “yep.” So for public prayer, it makes all kinds of sense.


  2. Rich Dixon

    HOW I end up, not where. VALUES behind the choices rather than the choices themselves.

    Gee, it almost sounds like prayer is a conversation seeking deeper relationship, that the plans and choices might be secondary concerns.

    But wouldn’t that mean that relationship with God matters more than anything else?


  3. Ellen Perry

    thx Jon for your response. What does “amen” really mean? I don’t go to church much anymore but when I say “Amen” it makes me feel very happy but I don’t know why.


  4. Phil Shaull

    Jon — poignant words, especially for me at this time in my life as I seek a new job and possibly new career path. Thank you. ~ phil


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