I think in prayer, we are like the students. We have this tendency to think it is about the world outside of us: the granite blocks.
We pray for the things we think would be good. The things that we think that we want. Just as the students might think that sculpting a cylander here, a box-shape there would be good.
We might get better at sculpting. We might grow more mature in the things that we pray for. But if we do, it’s only because the things we did had effect, the things we did have meaning. If the teacher had left the students only plastic sporks, the students would never have learned anything. Sporks won’t alter the rock, no matter how long you go at it.
And if prayers couldn’t impact the world, we wouldn’t have this opportunity for growth. If we pray for a new car, and then we get the new car, we learn that stuff doesn’t fill the hole in our hearts.
Ironically, in being given this God-like power, to impact reality itself through prayer, we come to appreciate God’s wisdom and finesse. We realize that if we were God, we would make quite a mess of everything, if the sculpting teaching showed the students his master piece after they made their own attempts at sculpting, they would appreciate it all the more.
Praying, I think, is about molding ourselves into the image of God, not molding the world into the image of Disneyland. In the very act of trying to make the world into Disney land, we begin to get it.
We slowly begin to pray with a God’s eye view of things, with an understanding of the big picture. There is this exchange in one of those “Oh, God” movies that came out in the 70’s or 80’s.
A mortal says to George Burn’s God, “Why did you make the giraffe’s neck so big?”
And God says, “So that they could eat the leaves in the trees.”
And the girl says “Well, why didn’t you make the trees smaller?”
And God says, “Well, I needed somewhere high up for the birds to perch.”
And she says “Well, why didn’t you just have the birds perch on the giraffe’s head.”
The point, of course, is that she has lost track of the idea that the whole thing began with the suggestion that the giraffe’s head wouldn’t be high up in the first place. And when we pray, I think we do this to. We tweak this thing or that thing about the universe, and the more we try to fix things the bigger mess we make. We end up realizing that the way things were before we started praying was the best way for them to be.