Monday, September 04, 2006

The Answering of Prayers

While reading through postings on other blogs I enjoy visiting, I ran across one that included the following passage about prayer: "I am tired of the response God answers "yes, no, maybe". I think that is just rationalization to make ourselves feel keep believing that God is answering our prayers. God has not made himself/herself knowable by answering prayers, imo. When was the last time you moved mountains?"

I thought about the passage for several days before posting a response. To me, the answering of prayers isn't something that is a firm yes/no/maybe that we can see. In fact, I think that many times prayers are answered at a time and in a way that we're either not expecting or not even looking for. Looking back, they might not necessarily have been answered the way that we would have liked. As St. Teresa of Avila once wrote, "There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers." Lots of folks wonder why the prayers that are asking to move mountains aren't answered with an equally-monumental response -- maybe they are; perhaps, though, the mountain is not being moved all at once, but one pebble or one clump of soil at a time.

And my method of prayer? For me, it is often a conversation during a quiet moment where I "talk out" my problems and offer them up for a solution, rather than a structured, bended-knee type exercise. God as a friend you can ring up whenever you want, rather than God as an Oz-type character where you enter the Emerald Palace and beg for an audience and hope he will give you a few minutes to plead your case.

Looking at the cumulative results of prayer I think are similar to the advice given to a writer once who was looking to write the one big story of his life. He was told that, rather than looking for the one big story, write the little stories along the way -- at the end, you'll find that the little stories make up the big story. Same with prayer -- the big answer you're looking for may be the result of several small answers you get along the way.

I am curious as to what others think about the answering of prayers. Do you see your prayers being answered by what you can see or hear as tangible results, or in the many ways that you don't see or hear the results? And how do you approach prayer?


SusansPlace said...

Matt, thanks for your thoughts on moving mountains and prayer. I will ponder the things you have said.


Patchouli said...

To answer your question--both. My prayers have been answered in concrete ways, and in making the journey more challenging. When you ask for wisdom, it doesn't just drop into your head. Your life becomes one learning opportunity after another.
And yes, link away! Look for yours on my blogroll soon...

Karen said...

My 15 year old wrestles with this; he says his prayers are never answered, but I try to help him see that they aren't necessarily answered HIS way...
I had to pray, about 9 years ago, that the Lord would take my mother quickly, rather than let her suffer with her cancer. The doctors said she could live a year or more, and I knew she would hate that. She was my best friend and losing her was tough...but He answered that prayer; she died quickly and He has blessed me with new friends and purpose ever since.
Good post, Matt.