|Finding power in prayers|
|Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Religion Editor|
|Friday, 27 April 2012 08:48|
(Editor's note: The National Day of Prayer observance is Thursday, so this 10th part in the, "Life with God's Energy" series focuses on prayer.)
What does it mean when people talk about the power of prayer?
The dynamic power of prayer is often misunderstood and often misused by many people with deep faith and great intentions.
The Bible reads, "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops." (James 5:16-18)
While such biblical teaching enhances one's confidence prayers will be answered, we all know how many times people are disappointed when they are not answered as desired.
Though we are inspired by the stories of answered pleas, there are also countless stories of people losing their faith, at least temporarily, when they felt God did not answer.
"There are many kinds of prayer that people utter or quietly speak in their hearts," says Rev. Kristel Asmus, coordinator of the National Day of Prayer observation in Wood County. "God hears them all whether they are selfish, greedy, frivolous, revengeful or sincere, heartfelt and full of faith."
While most are honorable, how many trivial requests are lifted up to God on a daily basis?
Asmus notes, "God is God, therefore he will answer accordingly. He may turn a deaf ear, he may wait until the perfect timing, he may answer immediately, and then again, he may say, 'No.'"
She added a "no" from God is perhaps the hardest answer to accept. Like most of the faithful, she questions how God could deny a child praying for her mother to recover from terminal cancer; or to a father whose son is comatose from an accident. It's hard to imagine God denying a pastor struggling with Alzheimer's or any debilitating disease or to a family seeking aid or housing after losing everything in a fire.
After the death of his first wife then learning his second wife was now seriously ill, one former Bowling Green attorney, was overheard to say, "If God loves me so much, why does he keep knocking me down."
It was an honest expression of a man frustrated when his requests for the health for his family were not fulfilled. He questioned but never lost his faith.
"Prayer at times like these, prove to be the testing ground for how much you trust and believe in God," Asmus says, asking, "Because God says, 'no,' do you stop believing, stop going to church, or stop praying?"
She acknowledges some people do lose their faith, however, "Others have learned through tough times that God has a better plan, or they learn things they never would have if it were not for the trial they went through. In the end they turn around and help others who are just starting to walk down that same difficult path."
Like gold is tested in fire, our fortitude is strengthened through those difficult times.
If all our frivolous wishes were fulfilled, no sports team would ever lose and everybody would regularly win the big lottery prizes. But that's not what God promises. That is not real life.
Again referencing scripture, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him." (1 John 5:14-15)
In essence, John reminds us, the Lord answers affirmatively the invocations which are in agreement with God's will.
In 1990, Garth Brooks hit the top of the music charts with his song, "Unanswered Prayers."
The chorus vocalizes, "Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers; Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs; That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care; Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers."
The specifics in the song are not relevant, the concept is sound, there are definitely times when the power and wisdom of God is only revealed long after our frustration over an unanswered request.
Like any good parent, sometimes the answer is, "not now" or simply, "no."
Why? Because your father, God, said so.
Even Jesus near his death suppressed his human desire in his invocation, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42).
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