Does God answer prayer? It is a well known fact that a large percentage
of the population be they Christian, agnostic or no faith at all send
up the occasional prayer particularly in times of need, but I just wonder
what they expect by way of return - instant healing? A lottery win?
I am by nature a sceptical person, probably due to my scientific background. I'll believe most things if they can be proved - if someone can show me physical evidence that something has happened - but when it comes to miraculous happenings or actions that seem to have no rational explanation then alarm bells start ringing. I get these bells sometimes when I tune in to the TV God Channels - and watch numerous individuals testifying on stage to the power of God working through the TV evangelist, and the promise of healing to all who go forward to the podium for the laying on of hands.
I'm sorry, but that's not my experience of miracles and healing and it worries me that the TV marketing of God's healing power is likely to leave many disappointed and disillusioned.
Of course I realise that I lay myself open to accusations of being short on faith, but my experience of miracles is a little more low key. I want to share particular prayers of mine with you for a reason. That maybe this will encourage someone who feels that there's no-one listening when they pray.
I'm sure that as a child many prayers passed my lips, but one uncomfortable period in my life will probably always live with me. I found myself as a teenager sending up desperate calls to whoever was 'up there' to help because of persistent physical and mental bullying at school. I prayed a lot, day after day. Nothing happened. In fact nothing happened for some time until I went to a teacher and explained what was happening to me, something I'd previously not had the confidence to do. Then it was sorted.
The next prayer that I remember, and we're talking over thirty years ago was one for healing. A young boy I knew was suffering from Leukaemia and with a poor prognosis from the hospital consultant. It was an odd prayer as I recall because it was so intense, passionate almost, not at all my usual short-and-to-the-point efforts. The boy recovered within months and was declared free of cancer.
A few years later, and unhappy in my employment I prayed for a change of job with just one proviso, that I wouldn't go back to where I'd been at college - on the cold east coast. The only job offer that came up trumps was.... on the cold east coast!
Seven years ago our daughter was very ill and subsequently diagnosed with a chronic and incurable illness. As you can imagine many prayers went up for healing, not just from us as parents but from the wider fellowship. She was not healed.
Yes, there have been lots of other prayers said in-between, but I share these because I believe they show something of the reality of answered prayer. Sometimes there is apparently no answer to prayer because the answer actually lies within us - in doing something for ourselves or for someone else. If I had reported that bullying months before desperation crept in it could have been sorted, but for some reason that thought had not entered my head until I became desperate. In taking that positive step I enabled a resolution to the problem to take place. If you are praying for a change in circumstances for someone (or yourself) examine the situation first and see if you are actually a part of the answer. Often this can lead to a blessing all round, and that's as real as any miracle.
There is no other explanation for the boy's healing other than it was a miracle, and I'm happy to accept that because I knew him and saw the transformation in his life. So yes, God does heal and he can do it spectacularly!
The job opportunity I think is an interesting one, because Christians will recognise God's sense of humour in the way that one was answered. As it happened, although the job was not successful long-term we were used greatly in a Church situation and can see that we had skills that were needed at a particular moment. Two prayers were answered; one for the Church who were experiencing problems, and one for me. It also showed me that you don't lay down preconditions with prayer!