Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Paradox (part four on prayer)

Most things that look like a paradox are either incomplete, a choice of the wrong logic for the question or the result of bad definitions. But paradox and quasi-paradox creates barriers to understanding and faith. For example, God is, as far as we are concerned, all powerful. God is also all knowing. Given those two facts, why should our prayers make any difference? Where do finite mortals have any place in the interplay of infinities and what is our role, other than suffering? For we do suffer, are afraid, and hurt.

We fit. We belong. When David asks "what is man, that thou art mindful of him?" in Psalms, he comes full circle to an answer. The same is true of Moses in his apocalypse when he begins by stating that he had never supposed that man was nothing, lost in a sea of infinity, and never guessed that man and women were everything, each a child of God.

But in prayer we fit because the interaction of prayer changes us. Yes, there are times when the intercession we seek would have occurred anyway, when we pray for what would be God's intervention regardless of what we sought. But, by changing ourselves through prayer, we change the shape of everything we interact with and where we fit in that interaction. We do not so much change God, as change ourselves, and thus our relation and thus what will become.

That is how we fit in an infinite world as finite mortals.


I've written on suffering and pain, which is related to this thread, but a far different topic.

You can read about that at Healing the Spirit.

There are some questions that have been asked as well.

I'll address those that I've left hanging in an afterword, but I appreciate everyone's comments and thoughts.

4 comments:

Geoff J said...

We do not so much change God, as change ourselves, and thus our relation and thus what will become.

I would agree that God does not change as much -- but I am convinced he does change as a result of our prayers. He changes his mind sometimes, he changes his plans sometimes, and he internally changes as a result of our ever changing relationship with him. Were it not so there would be no real relationship between us and him.

Stephen said...

Which is where we get to paradox, in a finite, infinite relationship.

I'm convinced that when we change we change how God relates to us and his purposes for us. A part of a mosaic that changed color would go somewhere else.

I'm also persuaded that a personal relationship with God means that it is interactive, not merely passive, as that example implies, so that the changes are interactive.

I'm not sure I know what that means or how a finite change in an infinite being works or what it means.

Geoff J said...

I'm not sure I know what that means or how a finite change in an infinite being works or what it means.

I really don't what an "infinite being" is... Can you explain? If it means an eternal and beginningless being then it applies to us too in Mormon doctrine so what is the difference?

Barb said...

I have not had a chance to read all the parts yet on prayer. I am glad that you have taken the time and effort. The need to pray is one of the biggest Sunday School answers. It is said so often that people who have never been driven to their knees and have only said casual prayers may not know the real power. Thank you for taking the time to make meaningful comments that can help us all to understand better and pray with more heart.