How does the Church of England reconcile these three things, which seem at odds with each other:
- The bible tells us to ask for things in prayer (ask for what we want / ask for bad things not to happen).
- Humans have free will.
- The universe operates according to physical laws (ignoring miracles reported in the Bible).
I don't know why it took me 30 years to realise that these three don't make sense when you consider them together. If I pray that my children won't get kidnapped or crushed in a landslide, how could God possibly grant that request without denying the kidnapper's free will, or altering the natural state of a cliff face? These might not be great examples; what about asking for someone to be healed, asking for people to survive an earthquake you've just heard about, asking for world leaders to make the right decisions? How can God grant those wishes?
Is there a single thing you can ask for, without violating the 'rules' of free will and nature? Ask for courage/patience for yourself perhaps, that might work.
To my (limited) brain it seems like this one aspect of prayer is pointless. I feel a bit stupid about all those fervent prayers I made for world peace. Why do we ever ask for anything, if it is pointless?
I understand that there are other aspects to prayer (asking forgiveness, expressing love/worship, thanking) so it is just the one aspect (making requests) that seriously troubles me. I must have got it wrong somewhere...