“There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the LORD listened to a human being.”
I believe we deeply misunderstand prayer. We believe and have been taught that prayer is about asking God for things. We justify this with a few commands in scripture about asking what you want in God’s name and getting it. But there is exceedingly more example in scripture of seeking God’s will, God’s plan, and praise in prayer than in asking for stuff. But we are Americans, living in an individualist, capitalist society, and so it makes sense that we would see God as a Djinn, a Genie granting us wishes. In fact, the most common reason I’ve heard from people for their disbelief is that “God didn’t answer my prayer”.
If prayer indeed is about God answering our requests, “listening to us” in terms of obeying our commands or granting our wishes, then what do we do with a verse like this? I don’t think we can reconcile it or frankly this whole story, which is a miracle more because God gave Joshua what He asked than that He stopped the sun. I think our only option is to change our assumption about prayer.
What if prayer was about listening to God’s will rather than trying to change it? What if prayer was about taking orders rather than giving them? What if prayer should be more about silence than about words? Try that for the next week and see if prayer changes for you, and change things for you.