Thomas Edison is a man i admire, he was an inventor and seemed to be a genuinely nice chap. He had a tenacity that many of us lack in life and was determined to the uppermost to achieve his aims, the most famous being the lightbulb. When asked by a reporter if he felt like a failure he replied" no i now know 999 ways not to make a lightbulb, the figure is never set in stone, some biographers say it was 1000, 3000 10,000 times before he got it right, but the number is not as important as not giving up in the face of what appears to be failure, and keeping on going even when people are laughing at your "failure". Edison could teach us a great deal as could a lot of great inventors and scientists of our times.
Over the last few weeks a great deal of my time has been taken up with Prayer, doing it ( for others and for myself as my health is poor at present) speaking about it and hopefully helping people to understand it better. Now one of the things which has kept cropping up is "why God answers some prayers and not others" the simple answer is i have no idea, does it make God unfair and nasty, in some eyes yes. We Can all give examples of prayers not being answered how we expected or how we wanted. We have possibly prayed for healing for a friend and it has not happened and we wonder why, what is God playing at. That will obviously colour our ideas on how and why prayer does or does not work, but trust comes into it somewhere along the line and trust we must. Obviously prayer helps if you believe in an interventionalist God, some people do not believe God wants to get involved because of unanswered prayer and that colours what they feel and feelings are not faith, it's emotion and we have to try and separate the two. You can pray without believing in an interventionalist God, but if you believe God is not going to get involved there seems little point other than offering platitudes to an empty space.
Also a big part of prayer is relationship, our relationship with God through his son, what we know of God and how our relationship with God helps our prayer life. Relationship is key to a good and productive prayer life, our relationship with God and how we view him will affect how and if we pray. If your view of God is of the man with a big stick, who will belt you every time you step out of line then you are likely to encounter problems, if you view God as a loving caring father the chances are you will approach prayer differently, you will approach it as a conversation as a relational conversation where you lift your mind and heart towards God and engage with listening and understanding. Many times i have prayed for things and they have not been answered how i thought they should be, does it stop me praying? NO it does not in fact if i'm not seeing answers or getting movement i tend to pray longer and wait for movement to happen. Many times i have prayed and seen people healed, yes i know some will argue that the body repairs itself, the brain tricks etc etc. But when there is no other explanation than a miracle taking place you have to go with that. Sherlock Holmes said something along this line (and i know he is a fictional character) "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” Thats how i approach prayer, i don't fully understand why it works or does not work but i know it does, and just like Edison keeping on trying to make the lightbulb and not giving up when things did not work out, i'm prepared to keep going with knowing God is interested even if i don't fully understand it, and he will keep proving himself to me and to you through what you pray.
Sunday, 1 September 2013
In my time as a Christian one thing that has always bugged me is the ability some Christians have to concentrate on the irrelevant and miss the big issues. Now this will upset some of you and i know who you will be, it will also bring out all the old platitudes that get trotted out when this subject comes up, it's not meant to offend but i know some of you will be offended so i will apologise in advance for that.
A few weeks ago Pete Pillinger posted a link about" the questions the church is asking, but society is not" or something along that line and it got me to thinking, are we actually asking questions at all and more importantly are we actually relevant to the society we live in. As most of you are aware i'm blessed to have more non christian friends than christian friends and i really do thank God for that everyday. But something happened on Friday that got me thinking about how we as Christians are so dependant on having the title and for some the title is more important than the job description and doing the job. On Friday a friend called Matty introduced me to his daughters friend and called me the Vicar, she was shocked because her idea of a vicar was a collar, straight laced and a boring old fart and unfriendly (her words) where as i'm covered in ink, i smoke and i'm friendly(her words). During the conversation i had to try to explain to her that i was not a Vicar, not ordained, and not a dog collar wearer, but that i was a God botherer, when her eyes glazed over i realised something. When people come to us as Christians for help, they don't really care about what your title is, they want your help, they want someone who can give comfort and point to something different they want a friend i guess. So does it really matter in the real world if you are called a Vicar by non church people, they know i preach and as such that makes me a Vicar and to be honest trying to explain the ins and outs of ecclesiastical thought is not going to cut it as their eyes glaze over. Legally yes it matters for certain things but when the chips are down does it matter a flying fig what they call me, as long as i'm able to help them or point them to someone who can or better still point them to God.
This is the crux of the matter we spend a lot of time discussing trivialities, hymn books, structure and asking ourselves lots of questions that are really only relevant to us, they only matter to us and don't tend to matter to society at large. So do we carry on playing Marbles with Diamonds or do we/ can we become relevant to societies questions and stop the games? I'm sure we can i'm just not sure we have the desire to do so, and that will cut some of you. Thomas Eddison is a hero of mine, he was a scientist and an inventor, i'm an engineer and love the idea of Eddison working away but that is a blog for another day.