The Paradox of Prayer

One of the biggest struggles of my faith journey was to grapple with the concept of prayer. Here's how I would summarise the paradox of prayer:

1. We need to pray for our needs and most importantly, for our salvation. (Matthew 7:7) (Colossians 4:2) (Romans 12:12)
2. But God already knows what we need. (Matthew 6:8-9)
3. Moreover, prayer only works when we pray for what God thinks we need and not what we want. (Matthew 7:11) (1 John 5:14)

Now isn't prayer redundant and meaningless? Why does God use such a roundabout way to do what He wants? Why does He assign such a perculiar role to us?

There are many theological explanations to this paradox but none could get into my thick skull... My struggle with prayer abruptly and conclusively ended with a seemingly ordinary everyday situation:

I have been guiding my nephews and nieces for many years. Over the years, they have been asking me for many favours and I had rejected most of them because I knew they wouldn't do them much good. In addition, I always need to take the initiative to help them in their studies and to teach them how to build up their character because they never made such requests! Oh, how I yearn to do more for them and to develop closer relationships with them... if only they would ask for the right things!

Then God gently led this thought to my question about prayer... and what a powerful answer it was without theology or words! I was glad I prayed for the answer to the right question:)


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