Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Does Prayer Work?

As the world reels and staggers to The Day of Judgment - when all the accounts of good and evil deeds ever done on earth are finally settled - the tension around us builds to a crescendo. Is there anything we can do that will have a positive effect on us and our loved ones? Yes, there is. 

We can make sure our lines of communication with God are open by petitioning for answers and proofs. The Righteous Prophet Job successfully put God on trial for his sufferings, and had the tables turned on him. But in the end he was vindicated and granted more from God in recompense than he ever dreamed of  (The Book of Job).

The name Israel means "wrestles with God", and whoever does so is proclaimed righteous by the Lord. All the great and good men and women of history have struggled and questioned moral laws and rules, wrestled with them, sometimes even to death. It's not the safest route in life, but the most precious and glorious rewards are never won by timid, risk-averse people. We can do nothing better in life than plead our case for ourselves and humanity, insisting on the fulfillment of promises made by God. 

It's reasonable to ask why we should pray, because God knows all and sees all into infinity, far beyond us. Christ said, "Your father knows what you need before you ask him." - Matthew 6:8. The Creator of the Universe cares deeply about all life and every one of his creations. We are part of it all, and have a right to request answers and communicate with the Master Builder of all. 

Jesus had some choice words about being persistent in our prayer requests. In what is known as The Parable of the Persistent Widow, (Luke 18:1-8), a needy woman pleads with a callous and uncaring judge in her city who has been ignoring her. Again and again she waylays him and begs, "Grant me justice against my adversary!" Finally she breaks through his psychic armor and he's worn out by her, so he grants her justice. Jesus says, "Shall not God avenge his own elect, who cry day and night unto him...?" 

Two things, at least, are operative here. One: If we spend time petitioning God we're tuning ourselves to his frequency, so to speak. We can then be used by him in ways we'll never understand in this life.
Two: We need to be clear about what we're praying for and the importance of our requests. If we're asking for a new car, and can take an extra job or work harder for the money, is it reasonable to ask the King of All Creation for it? 

If you were granted permission to ask a multi-billionaire for a grant, that he or she indicated a favorable intention to give you, what would you plead for? A Lexus? A Tesla? A house in the Hamptons?

Who do you think God would be more favorably disposed to, a person who wants a new house or the one who wants to join those who will be with him in the front lines of the Final Battle? We who pray for that will become rich in all things, beyond human measure or understanding. 

Ideally, prayers should be for large scale and high stakes things. Consider The Parable of the Talents (Link), in which the Lord gave the most to his servants who did the most with what they had. They took risks, invested over the long term, and trusted in God. To the servant who did nothing with his talents, the little he had was taken away. 

We must never accept the modern world's "politically correct" notions, such as  "we're all equal"; or that mediocrity and "just being who you are" is enough; or that someone else can give you "self-esteem". Real self-esteem is earned by hard work, taking risks, failing sometimes, working through it, and developing character:

God loves victory and grants glory to the bold in heart. This is called chivalry:

                           Both men and women can achieve chivalry.