How are prayers answered?
When I was a young buck working construction, my crew and I were at the end of a long day and attempting to raise a twenty feet tall chimney frame on the forth floor of a home we were building in Lake Arrowhead.
As we were lifting the frame into place, we realized that we had too much momentum and that the frame was going to fall to the hillside below.
Not wanting to rebuild the frame, I grabbed one of it's supports with the claw of my hammer and began to slide towards the edge of the sawdust filled floor.
Just as I was sure that I was about to fall over the edge along with the frame... "God!" I said (In a quiet but firm voice - as if to wake Him from His sleep or to distract Him from something else He may have been doing).
Just then... a small gust of wind came from the other direction causing the frame to settle into it's planned (by us) place.
As I watched the form wobble and then settle in place, I noticed my friends looking at me as though I was crazy.
I whispered a quiet "Thank You" and then I went back to work.
When my friends later asked me why I didn't let go of the frame and run back from the ledge as they did - "I don't know" was all I could think of to say.
Was the gust of wind a "Miracle"?
It was for me.
I've burned through brakes racing down from the mountains, crashed into ditches, spun out across a five lane freeway and hit the center divider head-on, and totaled a few cars.
I walked away from every episode with little more than a bad attitude.
I've had more guns pointed at me than I would have liked, been missed by gunfire, and walked through riots without even a scratch.
I've had some bad-ass brotha's back down when I was at a disadvantage or outnumbered, and have been distracted from being in my usual places when someone was there intending to do more than just fight with me.
I know that there is some natural or scientific explanation for for all of this - but do these explanations make the incidents any less miraculous?
I'm not saying that my prayers can dictate the rules of the Cosmos - I mean, I barely have control keeping the weed to grass ratio of my lawn at an acceptable level.
But prayers do have an influence over one's life.
(I'm just not sure "how".)
When I was a kid...
I used to think that if I failed to say my prayers at night, the Sun would fail to rise in the morning.
So I always said my prayers.
And the Sun always came up.
But does my "evidence" prove anything?
Of course not. One thing had nothing to do with the other.
I thought that if I prayed long enough and hard enough - I could cause the Sun to be hidden from the Earth.
Even if I was to live billions of years and my prayers actually seemed to be answered by the burning out of the Sun - would this mean that my faith was the cause of the result?
How does one know when their prayers are answered?
Prayers are always answered.
Maybe not in the way one would like (Often getting a "No" for a reply) - but always answered.
Would you give a five year old a Mercedes Benz to drive at his will?
How about a sixteen year old?
If you could afford to buy if for him.
And if the kid had a licence and insurance.
And if the kid was responsible.
You see, there is a time and a procedure and work involved in being able to receive a "Yes" reply to a request.
Most people don't have their prayers answered (in a way they'd like) because they couldn't handle or manage the thing for which they are praying.
What usually happens when someone who isn't used to money all of a sudden receives large amounts?
Usually they end up broke and in a worse situation than they were in to begin with.
Not getting the money would have actually been better for them.
How do you pray?
Most people make cerebral prayers (going through the machinations and explaining to God and themselves "why" they should have something that they know they are not ready to have) and not visceral (the most natural, primitive and basic language and form that can ask for a "miracle" with the same ease as a child asking his mother for a cookie - and getting the same result).
If someone hates their job, their boss, and their co-workers - but they pray for a promotion - what are they praying for?
Maybe God would ask why He should promote them at a job that they really don't even want.
Or if they pray for a new job - have they learned everything from their current job that will enable them to excel at the new job?
Usually the person will become a bitter worker and end up working against that which they are praying for.
So who failed?
God, or themselves?
Most people don't even know what it is that they want.
When I was in Cali., all of my friends would ask why I wouldn't move to L.A..
I liked going to L.A. - I just didn't want to live there.
I liked being able to sit back and relax with friends at the Mission Inn pool and breathing in the stench of skunk/orange blossoms/ smog that we called 'air' in Riverside.
I knew what I wanted.
(Although when I thought I wanted to move to a place with blue skies, green fields, rivers and trees - and I prayed for a home in such a place - I ended up in a place with all those things here in this dump called Beaumont, Texas.)
Most people don't really even want what they pray for.
They know what everyone tells them they should want.
But few even take the time to think about, and make a list of, what they really want and the effects of having such things would have on their lives.
Those that have done this... probably have those things.
Most people pray for what they see everyone else having.
Their prayers are usually for those things.
Do you really want a Benz?
Can you pay a couple grand for an oil change or a blown headlamp?
If you can't afford to keep something, why should you have it?
Prayers are only answered with a "Yes" in relation to your ability to handle (or manage or maintain) what would be given with an affirmative response.
If your prayers aren't working;
Don't blame God,
But blaming oneself can lead to guilt.
Guilt is another reason why prayers seem to go unanswered.
Even when God says "Yes" - a guilty person cannot accept the gift that He has given by His grace.
A person who feels guilty sees no reason why he should be favored.
A guilty person becomes his own adversary.
Let's say that one day you came home and you flipped your light switch and your lights came on.
Chances are, you wouldn't worry about "How" the light switched worked.
Chances are, as long as the switch works.... the "How" and "Why" isn't important.
These questions are usually only asked when the light switch fails to do it's intended job.
If the lights failed to come on - the "How" and "Why" of the unit's workings then become important.
Or - If your lights at your home were working.
And the rest of the city was dark.
The "How" and "Why" of this situation would again be a sensible question.
Your switch is doing what it was intended to do.
Why does everyone else's failure mean that something must be "wrong" with your switch?
The group think tells you that your right is somehow wrong.
So even a "Yes" can be rejected as a "No" because it fails to comply with the norms of the larger population.
I don't care.
I really don't care "How" prayer works, or even "Why".
Just let it be enough to know that it does.