Friday, June 08, 2007

Prayer: Part 1

There once was a woman who opened her refrigerator and found that the only thing in it was an empty jug of milk. She closed her eyes and said under her breath, “I need money. Please just let $1000 fall out of the sky or something.” She closed the door to her fridge, opened a can of corn and poured equal amounts into three small cups and handed them to her three hungry children.

The next day, she opened her mailbox and was astonished to find a check for $1000 as her share of an inheritance left by her beloved aunt upon her death. As she hadn’t even known about her aunt’s passing, much less that she was about to receive money from her, the woman started to wonder whether her “prayer” to the empty milk jug had anything to do with it.

A few months later, her youngest daughter got sick with the flu. The woman knew she couldn’t afford the medicine she would need to treat her child. In desperation, after the children were in bed, she quietly opened the refrigerator and looked at the jug of milk. She had cleaned it out and kept it just in case it actually had anything to do with her receiving the thousand dollar check. “Milk Jug,” she started. “I know this seems ridiculous, but my daughter needs medicine, and I can’t afford it. Could you either send another check or heal her or something?” As time went on, no extra money was sent, but the daughter did slowly improve without the medicine until one day, she was completely healed. The mom figured the milk jug perhaps, as absurd as it seemed, had cured her child. So she thanked the milk jug and kept it in her fridge.

Sometime later, the woman found herself unable to pay the rent anymore, and she started praying everyday to the jug of milk for a miracle. Two months later, she was evicted. She had heard once that prayers were answered with a “yes,” a “no,” or a “wait.” So she figured that this was just a “no,” and when she packed up her belongings, she made sure to bring the empty jug of milk with her.

You’re laughing at this woman, aren’t you? You find this “praying to a milk jug” absolutely ludicrous, right? This is exactly what some non-believers think of Christians. Why? Because we also tell people that God answers our prayers with either a “yes,” a “no,” or a “wait,” just like the woman in this fictional story had been told. Think about it: “yes,” “no,” and “wait” can be statistically applied to ANYTHING, but unfortunately, doesn’t do anything to prove the existence of a loving God who has the power to answer our prayers.

Why do we try to explain God? We can’t, and in our attempts, our limited understanding is being exposed for what it is: human. Not divine, not supernatural. Which then makes Christianity seem man-made and flawed, and our prayer life seems useless and pitiful.

I absolutely believe that prayer changes things. Not only does praying give me a sense of hope, I believe my prayers are heard and considered by God. I'm just trying to figure out how to explain that to non-believers. All I've got so far is "Look at me," which is pretty effective at promptly ending the conversation since no one can argue that there's been a dramatic change in my life. They just want to attribute it to me growing up and making better choices with my life, not from the answered prayer to the God of the universe.

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