“Desperation arises in our vocation, and stimulates prayer,” Martin Luther says according to Luther on Vocation by Gustaf Wingren.
Amen to that. I’ve prayed many a prayers in my job.
How should we pray? In faith, says Luther.
Ouch. Every time I hear this, I cringe. Am I to firmly believe God will, for instance, give me new business this month? That seems incongruous with submitting to God’s will. But if I end up attaching at the end of my earnest petition for new business, “let your will be done,” have I just demonstrated my lack of faith?
Martin Luther says, no.
“All transforming action of God is incalculable and surprising, springing forth out of the freedom of God without criterion or rule.” Therefore, our prayer ought not “bind God to a fixed resolution of man’s outward difficulties.” It ought not “prescribe how God is to help.” It ought not set “purpose, place, time, and manner” for God.
Instead, our prayer is to be “upward-looking receptivity in certainty that help is coming, but without a fixed preconception as to how God shall proceed.” “Faith leaves God free to keep his promise of help according to his own will and pleasure…” (emphasis mine).
And that, says Luther, is prayer in faith.
Amen to that.