A recent letter to the editor on this page questioned whether prayer works.
The writer took a particular mass prayer event, looked at whether it had changed things – decided it had not – and concluded from that that prayer must not work.
We beg to differ.
The majesty of such things is in their mystery, of course. Your belief about whether prayer works or not is just that – your belief. We are separated enough from cause and effect, and the way of the world is shrouded in enough uncertainty, that our knowledge is beautifully limited.
We take it as an article of faith that prayer makes a difference. And we’ve seen enough anecdotal evidence to confirm that faith. Experiments also have shown that prayer could have a beneficial effect on medical patients.
But even if you doubt the power of prayer, we submit it’s folly to dismiss the possibility so lightly.
For one thing, how does the letter writer know that the prayer in question didn’t change anything? That’s beyond our ability to know.
It’s also quite likely that if the prayer did nothing else, it changed those who were doing the praying. It probably made them more mindful of spiritual aspects of our lives. If prayer did nothing else, it would in many cases change the pray-er.
For another thing, since when is there a deadline on God to answer a prayer? Time seems so pressing to us in the material world, since it appears so fleeting. God has no such constraints. He literally has forever. We are like children in our comprehension of the difference.
In addition, the letter writer assumes that the prayers of the group in question were in line with God’s will. Doesn’t that assume a lot?
Maybe God has other plans.
The letter writer referenced an Aug. 6, 2011, “day of fasting and
prayer for our nation’s challenges” in Houston, Texas – which the writer thinks has done no good.
First, how would he know? Second, when was the deadline on the results? And who decided that?
Lastly, how do we know that fixing America’s many problems is on God’s list?
We spout “God bless America” in this country as if it’s a done deal, or a command – rather than a prayer. What if God isn’t convinced? What if we haven’t done our fair share to get ourselves out of the mess we’ve created? What if we continue to do things that are wholly contrary to God’s will? Should God put a blessing on that?
Before questioning the Almighty for not responding quickly or obviously enough to suit our tastes, perhaps we should look in the mirror first and wonder how worthy we are of such service.
In the meantime, it’s not for us to say when and how prayers should be answered. Nor is it our place to demand evidence of it.
We are free, however, to believe as we wish.
For what it’s worth, we believe.