Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Shopping With God

Today the Milk Guy asked me another God-question, so I took that (whether wisely or not) as an invitation to throw in a few other thoughts about God that he didn't ask for. It just led to more questions. Basically, I confessed to him that my mother had prayed about the effectiveness of our shopping trip on Monday.

Here's the thing. My mom and I always go shopping when she's home. But the last three or four shopping trips have been sort of duds for me, because although there have been clothes I needed, I have been completely unable to find items that correspond to my need, or else to my price range. So evidently, with this in mind, my mother prayed on Sunday night that (since we had already been provided with money for the purpose) we would have a productive shopping trip. And we did. I found everything I needed, she found some things she needed, and we still had money left over. (Kind of like the loaves and fishes, only with fewer people involved. Zero, I suppose, if you are only counting men . . . )

But the Milk Guy (quite understandably) protested something like, "Don't you think God has better things to do with His time?"

I wonder about this sometimes. College-Roommate-Jenne once had a professor who asserted that God doesn't care about the minutia of our lives--that it is up to us. So I know even within Christendom there are differing opinions on what constitutes a prayer-worthy request. I have my own opinions on this, and I'm prepared to write them (maybe even within the next couple of hours), because I already rehearsed them today. But I'm curious to know where you stand on this issue.


Barry Pike said...

You are a hoot with your "Zero, I suppose..."

Personally, I think a casual survey of Psalms alone proves that anything and everything is fair game when it comes to prayer. And you don't even have to ask nicely.

Also, your Milk Guy's framing of his question about God and His use of time is fundamentally askew. Time and it's properties are bound by the power of God, not the other way around. As the Creator of all that is, God is unique in that He actually does have "all of the time in the world" to answer any and/or all supplications that He chooses. And, if you believe as Jesus tells us, that He loves us as a father loves his children, then it is a very short reach, intellectually and spiritually, to see how He not only can, but most likely would seek to bless even our most seemingly mundane requests.

It's actually logical. Personally, I love it when He chooses to be logical. And He doesn't have to, you know. That whole Sovereign Creator of the Universe thing kind of supersedes our understanding of logic, just like it does time. But, when He does choose to be logical, sometimes I can understand it. Which makes me happy.

And now, I think my comment is longer than your post.

So, bye.

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

Jenn - I just came across your blog and your question intrigued me because its something I go back and forth on. There are lots of times I'll be asking God what to do, then I'll sort of wake up and say, 'wait, maybe I should just buck up and take care of that myself.' Then other times, I think about God numbering each hair on my head, and that pulls me the other way. A question for the ages.

Jenn said...

Barry--the risk I take by leaving my posts open to discussion is that someone will make a point I intended to make. Sigh. Very good, very good. ;) I do intend to point out the time thing. But I think the question itself still holds. I think your reasons, do, too, but I can see why one would arrive at the question first.

Matt--Welcome! And indeed. A question to chew on like gristle. Mmm. Thanks for commenting! Feel free to any time!

David and Elizabeth said...

If only I could count the number of times I've prayed I could find my keys.... and God has answered! =)

Kathy said...

It is a good question, one I wrestle with, too, in light of the large-scale suffering around the world. Yet, we do see in the Bible that God cares about one individual and his/her needs. The widow whose lamp oil didn't run out while Elisha was with her; Hannah, who like so many women, couldn't have children and cried out to God; the Psalms, as Barry said. I don't think we should take His care for granted, nor should we be manipulative in our prayers.

And yet, sometimes, God does ask us to use our brains, and do the wise, perhaps obvious and logical, thing.

Not sure I've added anything to discussion. But good question, lots to mull over.

Annelise said...

I was going to answer the same way Barry did--time isn't a barrier for God--but he did it really well!

Annelise said...

I should also say that my prayers for a "successful shopping spree" weren't based on just wanting to buy stuff. Since I believe that my time and money belong to God, I have no desire to waste either. Shopping can take lots of time and money--neither of which I have and I have better things to do with both. So the point was really, "God, you know our time and funds are limited, and you know there are some specific things we need. Please help us to find them without wasting what is really your time and your money."

David Madeira said...

I really like what Barry had to say. In addition to that, I would like to mention that the idea that God can only deal with so much and therefore must only concern himself with the biggest things puts God in a box and constrains him with finite power, finite time (as mentioned above), but also finite LOVE. Only humans ever find themselves running out of time and energy and make excuses like "I only have so much love to give" or something like that. God doesn't have those limitations.

But I also liked Matt's point about God wanting us sometimes to "buck up and take care of something ourselves." I think there's some truth to this. There's a point at which the rubber hits the road and we must acknowledge that our omnipotent God knows what's going on even in our life's mundane details, cares about us, and is watching over us whether or not we bring every detailed request before him in prayer. While God isn't restrained by time, WE unfortunately ARE, and I do a bad enough job bringing the BIG issues before him as it is, so I sometimes just need to assume that God understands I need my Check Engine Light to go off and will intervene if He sees fit.

This is getting lengthy, but I also wouldn't classify your mom's prayer request as mundane. You've obviously had a trying couple of months where money, time, and energy are big concerns, and even something seemingly trivial like a shopping trip can end up setting you back on all of those things.

Please pray for my car. :)

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