Based on the title it’s obvious I have written about the subject of prayer before, specifically on whether God answers prayer. Ultimately I think God can answer prayer and whether He does answer it may or may not fit in to how we want it answered.
He’s a funny Guy.
Last week I almost had my head lobbed off. OK, not really but….well you make the call. I was at a red light turning left when a pick-up truck turning right onto my street lost its load which was not tied down. The physics involved allowed my car to be the stop gap for the large, thin metal sheets that exited the pick up like a wave. The damage to my car was astonishing. I mentally thought what the driver of the pick-up said out loud – which I can’t repeat here. In short, the metal sheets sliced through my car.
Now, had I been a half car length forward and had the pickup truck been traveling faster to create more force for the wave of sheets, it’s possible they could have gone through my windshield making me the stop gap. This occurred to me about 30 minutes later. What an excellent example of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. As my wife said later had she not asked me to pick her up for lunch it would not have happened…to me.
Earlier this week, the transmission in my wife’s car died as she drove to work and she slowed to a stop on the I-5 freeway on top of the Marquam Bridge in Downtown Portland. She was “one of those” drivers who caused a miles long back up and even made the traffic report. But as good fortune had it, our roadside assistance covered the 18 mile trip to our mechanic. As bad fortune would have it we now have to get a new transmission which will cost roughly $1,100. And as good fortune would have it we have the most honest mechanic known to man.
As continuing good fortune would have it my car suffered far more damage than previously thought and will be out longer than expected. Why good fortune? Because the rental car we have in place of my car will now likely cover the entire time it takes to get a new transmission for the other car.
So where is God in all of this? Did he answer “prayer” (I put in quotes because I didn’t actually pray that if a truck loses its load that I be kept safe) that I be kept safe? Why did He not answer “prayer” for the transmission? Because it’s silly to believe and expect that because I am on His side that my human made car would NEVER suffer from entropy. I don’t think it’s silly to believe that God saw the events and may have intervened to keep me safe, keep my wife safe and reduce the cost and ultimate pain-in-the-butt of our burden.
But what if I had been injured? Or killed? Or my wife’s car died in an even worse place causing a bigger back up or she was hit by an impatient, raging driver late for work? Turn on the news and you’ll likely hear about a motorist, pedestrian or a biker killed.
To be honest, I don’t understand prayer at times. Pray without ceasing. It’s in the Bible. But why, I sometimes ask. He knows what we need why come to him in prayer? Why are some prayers are faithfully answered and others seemingly go unfaithfully answered?
It just (exactly seconds ago) occurred to me that as parents of children we often know what they need/want. But we don’t always give it to them. But when they ask, when they truly ask with a humble heart and the innocence of a child, we are more inclined to give them what they want. We already knew they wanted something but with them asking it creates a bond, so to speak. It is our joy in giving them what they want but we can also test their character if we don’t give them what they want. Will they continue to trust and love us?
This is far cry from your kid asking for a PlayStation and you asking God to survive cancer. But the implications are parallel. In each case, you are dependent upon someone else for something and that dependency can either lead you closer or further away. God wants us to depend on Him. For Everything.
There is a prayer some Christians do called traveling mercies. When someone is traveling they ask for “traveling mercies.” (With apologies I cringe at this phrase. It’s just so Christianese.) But I too pray for safety and to arrive safely especially if I am flying. The author Francis Chan (I think it was him) said instead of praying for safety we should pray that whatever happens honors God. I have often been tempted when I pray with my family before travel to insert something to the effect of “and if we die in a fiery crash let it somehow give you glory” or something to that effect. It would be primarily for comic relief but in reality I suppose Francis Chan is correct. Though I pray that I will always be giving thanks for arriving safely.
If God doesn’t answer prayer than how will you respond? I think it all goes back to faith which admittedly I struggle with. If faith was not a struggle we would not struggle with unanswered prayer. My #1 prayer is one I pray happens in my life time. The Bible says it will happen we just don’t know when.
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come Lord Jesus. – Revelations 22:20
(About an hour after writing this my wife called and said she got a raise. The mechanic also called and lowered our cost by $100 and said he was done with the car.)