If you are part of the CrossTraining or Colorado Rapids community, we have been praying for a former player and his wife and their three children that were recently born. Today, one of the babies, a girl, died from complications. The other two are clinging to life in the neonatal unit and there are many prayers that are being said on their behalf and for this husband and wife. For my own family, we have wept tears in knowing that this couple have lost a child. In these times, as people of faith, we are confronted with the question of, What do we do with the enigma of unanswered prayers?
For some, unanswered prayers can become a breaking point of one’s faith. There are some that believe that the unanswered prayer is in some way due to one’s own fault – perhaps there was a lack of faith, or a lack of sincerity – or, there are many times, larger theological issues at stake – is there even a God? does He care? does he listen when I pray? does prayer really do anything?
While some of the questions surrounding prayer and its effectiveness or use are beyond the scope of this post, there are a few things that we can say affirmatively about prayer.
1. We are commanded to pray – this was modeled by Jesus, it has been a part of the religious life of the follower of God throughout all time (from Garden to grave), that we, as humans, would communicate and cry out to God.
2. There are specific ways and things to pray – unlike far east religions or new age philosophies, prayer is not merely just emptying to be filled by whatever comes to mind nor is it merely mantra-like or mechanistic chant. We have been given examples of prayer (i.e. The Lord’s Prayer, the psalms, etc.) that ought to be part of our own times of prayer.
3. What remains unchanged by prayer may not include ourselves – reread that one again. Essentially, even if prayers may go unanswered it does not mean that myself as a person will remain unchanged or unmoved. Sometimes God wants to change something within me and this often happens through prayer.
4. God is not constrained by our prayers – whether an issue of time, distance, or knowledge the limitations of our prayer are not limitations to God. Often times prayer is equated to “picking up the telephone” but if the lines are down or we don’t have cellular coverage, what then? That’s not how prayer works.
Where ever you may be in your own faith journey, let me encourage you to not give up on prayer. It may seem to you that there is no answer or the “wrong” answer has come – don’t give up. God does hear and He will show you and me more about himself through our times of prayer.
Rev. Brad Kenney