There are three ways of seeing prayer:
First Way: God changes the future when he answers our prayer.
Second Way: The future is set in stone but includes answered prayer.
Third Way: Prayer is futile because the future is set in stone.
Do you pray the First Way, thinking God will change the future, or…
…do you pray the Second Way, knowing God already knows how it will go, but
1. fashions the whole thing complete, from beginning to end, in such a way that
2. your prayer is answered before it all began, but
3. would not come about until after you pray it, so that
4. prayer feels like a real-time conversation, when it is actually a conversation with eternity…?
The First Way of praying is uncertain about the future, whereas the Second Way of praying knows God already has the future taken care of, without falling into fatalism and thinking prayer is futile (which would be the Third Way of seeing prayer). Brian Greene, in “The Fabric of the Cosmos,” wrote that “special relativistic reality treats all times equally. … Einstein believed that reality embraces past, present, and future equally and that the flow [ of time ] we envision…is illusory,” (p. 132). If Einstein is right, and if fatalism is wrong, the future, complete with our prayers and God’s answers, is out there waiting to happen.
Perhaps you’ve found yourself in all three ways of seeing prayer at various times in your life? It’s hard for me to stay in the second way, with temporal life flooding out the eternal view (though it has the potential to reflect it).