“Prayer and Petition,” by Andrew Schatkin
As Christians, we are told by Jesus of Nazareth to pray. He even gave us a prayer, which we call the Lord’s Prayer, as a guide to what we should say.
Since its inception 2,000 years ago, to this day, Christianity has been a praying faith. Christians have been instructed to pray not only in their churches but in their homes. We are told to pray as a conduit to God and Christ and to do it constantly and regularly.
Yet it occurs to somewhat strange, if not paradoxical, that an omnipotent and omniscient God who exists in eternity, who has heard all the prayers of all men and women from the beginning of time to its end, who knows the prayer before it is spoken, and knows the answers he has and will give, still commands us to pray.
Moreover, this all powerful and omnipotent being wishes not only to be petitioned, but praised. Is God and Christ some sort of Santa Claus who divvies out gifts to his select favorites who ask him with sufficient and persistent effort? Is God and Christ some sort of egomaniac and so insecure that he requires to be praised? The answer to these questions lies in our relationship to God and Christ, or, better put, in the nature of our relationship. God, as he is apprehended in Jesus Christ, wishes us to communicate with Him. In a word, he wants relationships with his creatures, or, more simply put, wants us to be his friends. He wants to share, with no gain for himself, His undying and infinite love with us as his sons and daughters. By praying, we approach God and Christ and he embraces us. Prayer is a form of sharing. It is relating to our creator in need and love, and, in turn, being enfolded by that love. In prayer, we rise above our limited selves in time and become in some sense little Christs or the persons we are capable of being
When we pray, we attach ourselves to the risen Christ and in some sense are able to share his being and love and to be remade and reborn in his image. Prayer is a catalyst that enables us to grow to be in the image of Christ.
We do not always know the answer that we are given to our petition or better put from our perspective the answer we want; we do not always know what is the purpose of praying and petitioning. We do know this much, however: from our earthly lives, without communication, there is no relationship or relationships.
God wants relationships. He wants us as friends and wants to share with us his love and being. He sent his only begotten Son to a twisted and degraded humanity in order have relationships with us and to share.
When we pray, we grow in our relationship with Christ, or, better put, when we communicate, we have that relationship. Christ wants to share his love, not on the basis of force, but by having us reach out to him as a product of our free will. It is not obtained by force or compulsion since relationships by force are not relationships at all. No woman can love the man who raped her of the child or love the parent who abuses him or her. Prayer is the catalyst and mode of friendship and relationship with God and Christ. Prayer is conversation and communication with our Creator and Redeemer and this act of prayer is voluntary communication that leads to the fullness of our relationship with Christ.