I’ll share a few thoughts about prayer, definitely not exhausting my many thoughts on the subject. Over the past few months, in the midst of my dad’s health crisis, I have newfound respect for the power of prayer. I’ll tell you up front: I don’t understand prayer. I don’t think anybody really does. There are countless books, writings, and theological thought around the subject of prayer. The best anybody can do is describe prayer. Theologians, and we are all theologians of one sort or another, are like scientists exploring a great mystery and can only examine the evidence and postulate cause and effect. I’m sure many may disagree and be put off by my remarks. Keep in mind these are only opinions from one more person examining and pondering the evidence.
However, I believe with all my heart that my dad would no longer be with us without prayer. Upon the onset of my dad’s health crisis, our family has enlisted the aid of our Facebook friends and we know that many, many people have prayed for him. The medical people are amazed at how an 86-year old has survived through all of the infections and setbacks. We don’t hesitate to let them know that literally hundreds have prayed for dad.
This is not to say, of course, that it is only because of our prayers that dad has survived this long. Medical technology and expertise and the visible support of family and friends have played a big part. The doctors, nurses, and support staff give a damn because they are compassionate people and they know there are others that give a damn. They have dedicated themselves to do everything possible to heal dad.
I also do not presume that the sheer volume of prayers have persuaded God to keep dad alive. There are many other cases where people pray like crazy and they still lose their loved ones. I believe God is ultimately in control. And try as we might, there is no formula of prayer that will force God’s hand.
Prayer is a mystery. I accept that. And I have already contradicted myself a little in the above paragraphs, exposing the paradox I find myself in. But I believe in prayer more than I ever have before, and not just because of my dad. There are other things going on in my life and I see how much prayer plays a vital role, even though I don’t understand it.
Prayer is a gift. I thank God for the gift of prayer. And I thank you all once again for your many prayers for dad.