Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Prickly Prayer Patches, Job and the Big Question, or Do God and the Devil Occasionally Make a Wager?

Back in the day, kids used to attend Wednesday night prayer meeting. At least they did in our church. And in that day and time, Wednesday night prayer meeting was for praying. We used to sit in a circle in one of the smaller rooms off the side of the sanctuary and pray… forever it seemed.

I remember my brother and I trying to join in when we were old enough. Stuff like: “Lord, thank you for the Bible!” And: “God, please save every person in this whole world!” As I look back on it now it is a little embarrassing. The hardest part for a kid was knowing when someone was done with their prayer and not just pausing to think of the right word or collect their thoughts. We interrupted more than one prayer in those days.

One of the first specific prayers I ever remember praying in church was right after we found out our mom was pregnant again. “Lord, please give mom a healthy baby.” I don’t know what prompted that prayer. I had no reason to suspect anything would go wrong. It probably just seemed to be the thing to pray in such a time. That baby, my second brother, Joshua, was born with cancer and died just over a year after he was born.

That sort of experience probably affects you. It certainly taught me something (be it right or wrong) about prayer.

People say, “There is power in prayer.” Or “Prayer changes things.” I don’t think they’re right. God has power and God can change things. He is like the most powerful and resourceful dad in the world and we are His children. Some people seem to think prayer is in itself a power, but really it is just like a child talking to their father. The thing is (and it is certainly a good thing) God does not spoil His children.

Only, it sure would be nice to be able to understand why God does not give us all the good things we ask for. No matter what people say, no one really knows why God allows all the suffering He does. The Bible’s answer to the question: “Why do good people suffer?” comes in Job. At first it looks like we are granted a glimpse into the secret, but do we really think God sits around making bets with the devil? In the end the answer is basically: “Trust me, my ways are too big for you to grasp.”

You either, accept that and hope, or you don’t.

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