Can you tell I'm working my way through some of C.S. Lewis' writings? Here's what I found this morning in "The Essential C.S. Lewis- The World's Last Night and other essays."
In speaking of prayer:
"Can we believe that God ever really modifies His action in response to the suggestions of men? For infinite wisdom does not need telling what is best, and infinite goodness needs no urging to do it. But neither does God need any of those things that are done by our finite agents, whether living or inanimate. He could, if He chose, repair our bodies miraculously without food; or give us food without the aid of farmers, bakers, butchers; or knowledge without the aid of learned men; or convert the heathen without missionaries. Instead, He allows soils and weather and animals and the muscles, minds, and wills of men to co-operate in the execution of His will. 'God,' said Pascal, 'instituted prayer in order to lend to His creatures the dignity of causality.' But not only prayer; whenever we act at all He lends us that dignity. It is not really stranger, nor less strange, that my prayers should affect the course of events than that my other actions should do so. They have not advised or changed God's mind- that is, His over-all purpose. But that purpose will be realized in different ways according to the actions, including the prayers, of His creatures."
God doesn't give us what we pray for because we know best, but because we have come to know Him well enough to have asked Him for the right things. And in doing so we become a greater part of the fulfillment of His purpose.
"For He seems to do nothing of Himself which He can possibly delegate to His creatures. He commands us to do slowly and blunderingly what He could do perfectly and in the twinkling of an eye. He allows us to neglect what He would have us do, or to fail. Perhaps we do not fully realize the problem, so to call it, of enabling finite free wills to co-exist with Omnipotence. It seems to involve at every moment almost a sort of divine abdication. We are not mere recipients or spectators. We are either privileged to share in the game or compelled to collaborate in the work, 'to wield our little tridents.' Is this amazing process simply Creation going on before our eyes? This is how (no light matter) God makes something- indeed, makes gods- out of nothing."
Wow. We are nothing of and by ourselves. But when we let God work through us we become gods-in-training. Our desires will soon be in line with His because we are growing more like Him every day. We no longer need urging to do good because we have tapped into the infinite source of all good, which flows naturally and purely on it's own.
Now for the scary but amazing part. Lewis is talking about why it seems like the prayers of those who are more faithful are often refused:
"....little people like you and me, if our prayers are sometimes granted, beyond all hope and probability, had better not draw hasty conclusions to our own advantage. (thinking that we are better than others whose prayers haven't been granted) If we were stronger, we might be less tenderly treated. If we were braver, we might be sent, with far less help, to defend far more desperate posts in the great battle."
Imagine God as the parent He is... holding our hands as we learn to stand and take our first baby steps. He's there every moment to catch us if we fall. But as we grow older and more able we are given the freedom and the space to take our first steps on our own. As we get better and better at walking we need less and less of His hand-holding to keep going. Not that we are self-sufficient and don't need God in our lives, but that we become strong enough in our faith to know that God is always there without needing the same reassurances and obvious answers to our prayers. We are sent on the hardest missions and given the greater tasks because He knows we are ready for them. He knows that as gods-in-training we are reaching a level where we can trust and believe Him without being granted every prayer or being directed in every path we take.