Recently I saw a comment on Facebook that made me growl mentally. The comment wasn’t rude, prejudicial, mean or hateful; in fact it was quite the opposite. A comment made with love, excitement and conviction. The comment? “Prayers have been answered!”
A kind, much-loved, intelligent 14-year-old girl that I know was diagnosed with pediatric granulomatosis with polyangitis. It is a rare chronic autoimmune disease that generally strikes middle-aged folks. The shock and heartache that ran through her “community” upon hearing of her illness was instantaneous, as were the well wishes, prayers, posts of scriptures, famous quotes and songs, from all of us who felt helpless but who wanted to reach out in some small way in support and love. This little Angel comes from ‘good stock’. Her parents are the type that, as an educator, I want to clone. Her father is a minister and, as far as this Agnostic is concerned, they are probably in the top ten of my “best Christians ever” list. These people are compassionate, tolerant, understanding, strong in their convictions but gentle in their approach, and never with the assumption that they know the “absolute truth.”
The news lately has been very good and full of promise. This news is what prompted the response, “Prayers have been answered.” But does God really work like that?
“Hey God, the switchboard is LIT UP with incoming prayers for the darling 14-year-old girl in San Luis Obispo County struggling with GPA. How do you want to proceed with this one?”
“Yes, I’ve been hearing the requests. I know this kid, she pleases me. She has a lot of people supporting her and tremendous potential for her life… Let’s send down some healing.”
I’d like to know if there is a specific form to fill out, or a requirement for praying that allows for favorably answered prayers. I’ve been “praying” for years for many situations and don’t always get the favorable outcome.
A very dear friend of mine passed away 15 years ago due to an illness. She had two beautiful young daughters, a loving husband and family that adored her. She was a wonderful woman, a remarkable friend, a good human being. Why were our prayers for healing not answered?
Another friend passed away 8 years ago due to cancer. She left behind a young daughter as well. This young girl’s father passed away shortly after she was born, so her mother’s death left her parentless at the age of 13. Why God, did you not answer our prayers for healing?
I was a Child Life Intern at Loma Linda University Medical Center back in 1986, part of a class requirement. I worked on the Pediatric unit. So many young terminal children… So many prayers for healing… So many lives lost. WHY were those prayers not answered?
Please don’t respond with the standard line, “God answers in His way, not our way”. Because frankly, that is not what I actually hear people saying when they make these comments. I rarely hear or have heard someone pray, “Hey God, This person is sick, so whatever works for you is good for me.” No, instead I hear, “Please bring strength and healing.” And I have yet to hear anyone say, “Thank God for answered prayer” when what they are praying for doesn’t materialize. I do hear, “God works in mysterious ways” or “Everything happens for a reason”. These are two other comments that I just cannot align myself with. If something horrible had happened, and this girl had taken a turn for the worse, would the comment have been the same?
And if God can answer prayer then He also has the power to “interfere” in our lives as well. Did God decide that He should afflict this young teen with GPA in order to show how powerful He is, or in order to “test” this family and their religious convictions? Is this a modern-day Job story, allowing evil to interfere to prove a point?
I am a believer in the power of positive thinking. I think that being a positive person reflects in our lives. My Grandma Burk was a very negative person. You could see that negativity reflected in her life. Our mind is powerful and can bring about amazing things. We can achieve those things we want in life, those things that we ‘pray’ for, but we must do something to achieve them, and even then the wish, the prayer, the dream, may not always come true.
Maybe this faith is something I miss out on by not accepting Christianity hook, line and sinker. I do believe in possibilities but I don’t have the faith, or belief, to say, “God heals.” I do like my paraphrased version of Matthew 5:45, “…the sun and rain fall on the just and unjust.” Good and bad things happen based on probability. At least this allows me free will, which I prefer over an interfering Entity.