There is a debate among the of us who believe in prayer, and members of our modern society who have become totally secularized. It is not always possible to point definitively and say we have proof, for some answers are not what we perceive as the answer. Yet there are some cases where the answer is apparent. I have experienced two such cases. One is from years ago, and the other is now still occurring. Can either case convince others? Probably not, if they do not have a predisposition to being convinced.
Prayer can be mysterious when determining the prayer has been answered, and answers may not be immediate.
The First Case
Years ago, I accepted a position teaching at a university. The position was to last seven years. In the last year it was time to become concerned, for other prospects were hard to find. I found out that a Catholic Mass was being celebrated on campus, and two days each week it coincided with time I was free. So, I walked over to the Newman Center if the weather was favorable. After several months, things seemed no better than before.
One day I was sitting in my office when one of the graduate students in mathematics came to the door. I recognized him, but we had only passed each other until then. He commented that he had heard I also had credentials in physics. It turned out he had applied to, and been hired by, a community college. He told me the same college needed someone in physics. I applied and got the position.
The Second Case
The second case involves my having cancer. Although it appeared to be past me after six years, it reappeared. My wife activated what she calls her prayer warriors, a loosely formed group of friends on Facebook.
The medicine that I was given is not effective on all who take it, the results are close to half. But it was effective on me. Then, the studies indicate a thirty percent reduction over five and a half months to be considered a success. I had a reduction from two centimeters to six millimeters in less than three months, enough to be called a statistical outlier. Now, since no other tumors have revealed themselves, so I am past the first removal and approaching the second. The second surgeon has indicated a lesser surgery will be needed than originally thought.
Wording of Items Below
Seeking God the Father,
Being Led by the Son,
Guided by the spirit,
The Three of Them Are One.
The First Step
There are different forms of prayer. We humans often resort to prayer of petition when a need is known. But first we should attempt to improve our faults. It seems God would be more receptive if we first attempt to lessen our sins.
The Second Part
We can ask for our needs, and have others also join with us. This is reasonable. In this perseverance is necessary. There may be a time during which we have not had an immediate understanding to the answer, or even feel it might not be coming. Faith allows us to persevere through this. The needed position mentioned above took months in coming.
The More the Better
Do Not Become Greedy
Prayer is not like money. If I have a certain amount of money, and wish to share a snack with a friend, we can each use half the value of the money. But, once the money is gone, there is no more.
In an unusual case, I emailed a friend who has also had cancer in the past to let him know of my situation. His response was that he was about to email me with a message of a recurrence of his cancer. We have many friends in common, other faculty members. He once taught at the same college that I still do. As I told my friends at work of my condition, I was often told I would be kept in their prayers. When I mentioned our mutual friend, I was told he too would be in their prayers. Would the mentioning of our friend cost me prayers? I reasoned the answer is no. The way I see it, prayer is not money. The same prayers can benefit several people, without being diminished for any of them. In fact, spiritual charity seems to me to be a form of prayer, and not concealing others’ needs for fear of sharing could be spiritual charity and have a greater impact. Unlike money that can be used up, God can respond in an even greater way. I am not a theologian, so those who are can comment on this at the end of the article.
Prayer Requires Follow Through
Unlike prayer of petition, the follow through is the responsibility of the person who received the benefit. There must be a prayer of thanksgiving. In the new testament the story of the ten lepers clearly indicates the one who returned praising God was the one acting as expected. But this goes even further. When the leper returned praising God, it seems he went on to the best form of prayer, prayer of adoration. These can be combined, but clearly should not be delegated.
The introduction image is our own.