Thursday, February 10, 2011

Do You Pray?

When troubled times and tragedy come everyone says they are praying for you, for your family, for relief. A recent event in our family brought about many messages of prayers being said for us. It made me think.

Are they really praying, I wondered? What are they praying for? Is a prayer to them a passing good wish or real connection with God? (One person who claims to be an atheist offered a prayer - but to whom?)

After 40+ year of sincere praying for myself and many hundreds of others, this is what I have come to understand.

I believe prayer is true communication with our Creator and it enhances our relationship with Him - helps keep us in touch, if you will. I do not, however, believe that prayer alters the laws of science, or the random nature of the world. There seems to be occasional miracles but maybe they are miracles because we want them to be.

If an abundance of prayer cured cancer, then several of my close women friends would not have died in their 40's, 50's, 60's. Prayer did not heal the cancer that the earth gave them. This is what I believe prayer DID do for them. Gave them comfort, brought a sense of peace, took away fear and brought them close to the God they were moving out of this world to be closer to.

I think prayer works internally in the human spirit. It doesn't change circumstances, but it can change people. It doesn't erase heartache, but helps us through it. It gently guides us through life if we allow it to. It heals broken hearts if not broken bodies - the laws of nature God has already put in place will do that or not.

Prayer speaks to our souls and brings peace no matter what situation the planet has randomly placed us. It doesn't control us - it frees us.


Jan said...

I really like how you ended this post. Truth.

alphabet soup said...

Prayer, a complex topic. Different things for different people and for many they seem to go unanswered. Seem to go unanswered - often the prayer is met in another place where the prayer (?) has not been looking. I too am puzzled about prayers from atheists.
That's what I mean about complexity.
Ms Soup

Justfly said...

I don't think prayers change anything. I really do cringe when I hear people say their prayers were answered. Why weren't mine? Were they not good enough?
I do still find myself saying the rosary when I am highly stressed, it does calm me.

Miss Sadie said...

Prayer, at the very least, changes the person doing the praying. Then, lifting up someone else in the divine presence may make a difference in the life of the other, insofar as the other person knows s/he is truly loved and deeply cared for. And since our attitude effects our possibilities for recovery in any situation, building up the attitude of another is a help to that person.

Beyond that, "more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of." At least, those were the words put into the mouth of the dying King Arthur by Tennyson. Who can prove or disprove that? Who wants to? Not I.

But I do pray.

Carol said...

To pray without ceasing, just like that monk's quest, I'll have to look up his name.

Chris Owens said...

I'm glad I found your blog! As a pastor, I spend a lot of time privately and publicly praying for people, most especially when they come to me asking for my prayers. After all this time, I know there are things about the nature of prayer I simply do not understand, specifically how our prayers weave into God's activity.

There seem to be two predominant views on that question. One, the "Santa Claus" view looks at prayer as moving God to do what we want him to do. If we need something and don't have it, ask God, and he'll provide it. If someone I know has cancer, pray and ask God to take it away (as if God wasn't going to unless we ask.) The problem: there are only yes and no answers to this prayer. Either God completes the order or doesn't, often in a seemingly capricious way.

The second view is prayer as therapy. Frustrated with the seeming naivete and injustice of the "Santa Claus" prayers, this view understands prayer therapeutically, that the action of prayer and knowledge that others are praying brings a peace and healing of its own. Notice however, that God isn't needed for this view of prayer. It's exclusively a socio-psychological human phenomenon.

I think reality lies somewhere in the middle. I see evidences of that biblically, too. Either way, prayer opens us up to the presence, power, voice, and leading of God. God does embrace the prayers of his people as more than a cosmic Santa Claus or a therapist. Somehow, our prayers are very much weaved within the will of God, which I understand in Jesus Christ, to be the healing and redemption of all creation.

Diane Vogel Ferri said...

Thanks for all the comments. I hope it's clear that I believ in prayer - but not the Santa Claus kind. So many people say they pray and it is not answered - but sometimes that is the answer. god doesn't do for us what we can do for ourselves or make it easier (which is something I often expect). I agree with Mis Sadie - it changes the person praying. Most of my prayers are in gratitude and that keeps me aware of my blessings.

Moohaa said...

I love your view on prayer and I think I just might agree. I've seen prayer answered... and never in the obvious way I would hope.

I also came to learn to be honest with myself and people. If I offer prayer, I make sure I do so. I used to be one who would offer prayer and not do it. How awful! Now if I know I won't pray, I don't offer it.

Lena said...

A priest once told me that there was only one prayer. It was to ask that God's will be done.

Very good post. I agree with how prayer changes the person praying.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I wanted to come by and thank you for your sweet words about dear Betty....It meant a lot to me that you came by and said what you did...I thank you with all my heart, my dear.

Kathiesbirds said...

Very well said.

RT said...

Diane - Id agree with you in principle. I havnt seen a miracle performed by prayer. But I do beleive it could happen.The power , resonance, and faith that envelope a person when they pray can very easily affect their physical condition. Will it affect their cells , I think it is this hope that we hold dear when we pray. It is also the hope that we are speical that keeps us going.

myrtle said...

Great! super love this post. . i really agree with you indeed prayer really make a person change.. =)

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