The Power of Prayer?

After any national or local tragedy my social media feed is filled with sympathetic well-wishers offering up thoughts and prayers to the grieving. Someone is ill or having a rough time? I’ll see a request for prayer warriors to pray for their loved ones. Should I request prayers from my social media network to heal my loved ones? If enough people pray will they be healed? If our loved ones are healed or the issue resolved, has God has answered our prayers? If not, then was it not his will? Or did not enough people pray hard enough? Is God running a popularity contest? If we are in pain and no one prays for us, are we doomed to never find relief? Is God causing us to continue suffering because we refuse to pray? If God could heal the broken systems and people in our world, why hasn’t he already? Because thousands of years ago Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge? Yet it is our struggles that make us stronger and shape us into who we are. If our lives are pre-ordained, then God already knows who will pray as well as the answers to those prayers said and unsaid. What is the point?

Yet, I still offer up that hopeful prayer for intercession when my loved ones are in pain or struggling or the injustices of this world weigh me down. Like rubbing a lucky rabbit’s foot, my psyche tells me it can’t hurt. Just maybe God is listening to my requests? It is comforting to believe that God is somewhere out there in the Universe listening to my whispers, ready to wave a wand to make my troubles go away or at least point me in the right direction if only I wait long enough and believe.

At 51 years old, I feel like a hypocrite some days. I have led my daughters to have faith in God and to go to church and to pray. I continue to support them in their faith journey and yet mine has hits some bumps. At first I thought my problem wasn’t with God, but with religion. I still think that may be true, but more and more I am uncertain. My daughters have continued to go to online church and soon we will be back in person worship. I watch and go along with them off and on, but my heart is not in it. The familiar words flow from my lips, but they ring hollow to me. Why? Religion has been used to and continues to persecute people who are considered “other” – people who love differently, people who look differently, people who worship differently…and on and on. Some will point to scripture and contend it is “God’s” word written there, which then empowers them to judge and exclude and reject. We are to put our faith in the fact hundreds of years ago various men (and one or two women) were inspired to write down God’s word as God intended as opposed to suit their own agenda. Seeing how fearful people are of losing their power over others (both historically and in current day), I have a hard time believing the writers of the bible “just got it right.” If religion were solely focused on loving, respecting and caring for each other without condition, I could buy in to that, but it’s long been wrapped up in control, power and money. Have I done my children a disservice by raising them in the church? Have I poisoned them to exclude instead of love? I hesitate to voice my doubts to them. I tell myself it is up for them to decide for themselves. Does that make my a bad mother? A coward? A hypocrite? A heathen?

Maybe it’s not my faith in God that has waned, but my faith in humanity to do the selfless thing, to take the high road to do the right thing. I see the beauty in the world and the miracle of life itself. That doesn’t just happen. I feel like my thoughts go round and round in my mind. I do not know. I may never know. Certainly, the answers will not resolve themselves in this post. Maybe I should pray on that some more…

One thought on “The Power of Prayer?

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this vexing issue, Sharlyn.
    C.S Lewis made a very important statement about prayer. He said that prayer does not change God, and it may not change our circumstances, but it will change us. (That’s my paraphrase). I think of prayer as simply talking to God; it’s how I build my relationship with him. I might disagree with him sometimes, be confused by what I see, but in the end I accept he is perfect and perfectly in control. it doesn’t have to make sense to me.I don’t need to necessarily like it. I don’t need all the answers. If I may simplify the whole shebang: God is love. Everyone who loves knows God and is born of God. Jesus is God. No one is as good as Jesus so we all fall short and need help to live well. God provides that help through the death and resurrection of Christ, the Bible, through people, through angels and directly through his Spirit. You might be overthinking things a little Sharlyn, but asking questions concerning faith is never a bad thing. Everyone who genuinely seeks truth will find it.

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