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.