Recently, the college-age daughter of a friend of mine, let's call her Jennifer (not her real name) got drunk and slipped on a boat dock, fracturing her spine. The doctors were able to patch her up and she has no paralysis now, but she will be forever vulnerable to further injury which could cause her to become a paraplegic.
When my friend posted this news on Facebook, there was an outpouring of support: "Sending prayers to both of you." "Prayers, love and hugs" "Praying for her, for you, for the doctors and nurses." were just three of the messages.
Let's get this straight right now: There is no "Prayer Central" in Heaven with operators standing by. You can pray all you want but they go nowhere. How do I know? Are you telling me that nobody prayed for Jennifer before she broke her back? Of course they did! Her mother did, at a minimum. And yet, despite these prayers, she got drunk and slipped and fell. You have two choices here: Either prayer is ineffective or God (or Jesus Christ, if that is your God) listens to your prayers and decides to totally screw up your life because She didn't like the way you prayed.
I do not believe in a vengeful God. The God I believe in represents Love, Spirit, Truth, Kindness and Light and would never do something to hurt one person for the benefit of others. Praying to God for victory in either sports or war is meaningless.
Friday, my wife and son, who car pool to work, were five minutes late. As they merged from one highway to another, they found the new highway to be almost vacant. A concrete mixer had tipped over before the merge, blocking several lanes. Did God tip over the concrete mixer, injuring the driver and delaying hundreds of cars, so that my wife and son could get to work on time? Of course not!
If prayer doesn't help a situation, it must have some benefit. It does. The person doing the praying, and posting about it on Facebook, receives the illusion that they are doing something positive about a bad situation. In reality, they are doing nothing but they feel good because they think they have done something good. Also, in the case of Jennifer, her mother benefits because she found out that there is a whole community of people who are there to support her. But did the prayer affect the outcome? Not a bit. Jennifer will never be whole and will have to live with a partially mended back for the rest of her life.
The good news to me is that I see no harm in prayer. It is not going to make things worse. And I'm sure people who pray are better off for it. But thinking that it changes events in life is false.
People will disagree with me. Feel free to post comments. But if you feel hate, remember that hate has no place in God's world. If you believe in a Devil, hate is one of the Devil's tools. Hateful comments will not be allowed but you can go ahead and tell me I'm going straight to Hell because I don't believe in Hell.