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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « Questions for Jehovah's Witnesses | How to Save Humanity »
    Wednesday
    Nov302011

    Does Prayer "Work"?

    I ended up in the ER recently one night, driven in an ambulance, because my back gave out and I wasn’t able to stand up, roll over, or even sit up. I was in so much pain three doses of morphine at the hospital still did not allow me to stand or sit up straight, and upon leaving I could barely walk.

     

    The entire night I prayed to God for help, but it wasn’t until the second dose of morphine I was able to lie mostly comfortably. 


    Feeling somewhat better the next day, I asked God again why my prayer didn’t work. His answer surprised me…

     

    1. He said prayer is a conversation not a snack machine. The idea is not that because I’m a Christian and live life according to the Bible (serving God), God automatically has to give me something back.

      Those are the goals of religion and magical rituals, not Christianity. God does not want obliging worshippers or legalistic sacrifices (Isaiah 1, especially verse 11) and never has. So to use the phrase, “does prayer work” implies a misunderstanding of what prayer is in the first place.

    2. He gently reminded me that my pain and hospital trip were natural consequences of stupid (and prideful and impatient and stubborn) actions on my part (lifting heavy objects and moving furniture while dealing with a hernia and other medical issues, when I was supposed to be on light bed-rest) that He (and everyone else) kept telling me not to do so I wouldn’t hurt myself.
    3. While I wasn’t instantly healed or immediately relieved of all pain, it did become progressively better from the beginning of my ER visit through to the next day. 

     

    This is only one example in my life, and there have been other answers to prayer more "miraculous", but God's goal isn't to always take us out of hard situations (especially ones we've put ourselves into), but to sustain us through them.

     

    Nearly all Bible stories follow this pattern, but Job and Moses vs. Pharaoh and the Israelites stand out as O.T. examples, and the persecutions Paul lists in 2 Corinthians 11:21-33 stand out in the New T.


    The general theme of what I mean is this:  

    "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed" (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

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