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Copyranter’s Dad is Dying

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Copyranter, my favorite, consistently profane and truth-speaking advertising blogger, today wrote about his father dying of cancer. “Asshole commenters” have been lining up to sympathize and pray and weep. All great responses.

or does prayer have much deeper capacity?

Prayer is like wishing, right?

Mention “prayer” and people mostly nod in agreement—what is there to disagree with? My colleague’s husband fell down a set of stairs and broke his neck. Her email from intensive care told the full story. People responded—as they will—with kind wishes and promises of prayer, among other things.  Later she updated all concerned with the good news that he would fully recover, and went on to thank people for their positive energy, prayers and good wishes. Her update-—it seems to me—caught the primary understanding of prayer for most people, monotheists of most stripe and Christians included. Prayer, positive energy, good wishes, wishing on a star—all sort of the same thing. There is mystery in the words spoken in silence and the desire and the pain and the faith. Maybe something happens when someone prays. Maybe not. Prayer is hard to characterize.

Probe with a few questions—even among staunch believers and practiced pray-ers—and the mystery only deepens. “Prayer works,” someone might say. And they point to a prayer they prayed and then some related action that occurred. Did their prayer work? Possibly. Is there power in prayer? Maybe. And maybe not like we think. Certainly God has power—complete, entire power over all that is and ever was. And certainly God is under no obligation to fill our order, answer our requests, or even hear us—unless as He obligates himself.

We ask things of God from all sorts of motives with all sorts of expectations. The truth is we know very little about what happens when we pray. But we know prayer is the example and model the Bible holds to out for interacting with God. What does the Bible say about the connection between prayer and action?

Bible people were always talking with God. The list of praying people is extensive and includes those who were face to face with God (Adam and Eve, Moses), sometimes hand to hand (Jacob), as well as those who sat through years of silence in their prayer (Abraham, Hannah), and everyone in between. We typically think of prayer as a solitary, passive activity of last-resort. And yet the Bible routinely shows action following people praying. And not just small stuff, but game-changing action. Action that shifts a story to an entirely different place.

I’m trying to learn more about prayer. And I’m praying for Copyranter and his dad and his family.

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Image credit: stopping off place via this isn’t happiness

Written by kirkistan

March 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm

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