Sunday, August 11, 2013

When my oldest daughter was three she prayed,
"Help Grandma to have a baby."
Does God answer prayer,
even if prayed with child-like faith?
I often ponder how Jesus taught us to pray.  I have a prayer I think God would be pleased to answer, and so I ask Him, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."  If He doesn't provide the answer I have in mind, it is left an unanswered question of sorts, but the true answer is that He is still God.  My faith is in Him, not in seen or unseen answers.  But it is comforting to know that Jesus asked for His kingdom to be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Let Thy kingdom come!

"Prayer is the bow, the promise is the arrow: faith is the hand which draws the bow, and sends the arrow with the heart's message to heaven.  The bow without the arrow is of no use; and the arrow without the bow is of little worth; and both, without the strength of the hand to no purpose.  Neither the promise without prayer, nor prayer without the promise, nor both without faith, avail the Christian anything.  What was said of the Israelites, "They could not enter in, because of unbelief," the same may be said of many of our prayers."  Salter

"An arrow, if it be drawn up but a little way, goes not far, but if it be pulled up to the head, flies swiftly, and pierces deep.  Thus prayer, if it be only dribbled forth from careless lips, falls at our feet.  It is the strength of the (request) and strong desire, which sends it to heaven and makes it pierce the clouds.  It is not the arithmetic of our prayers, how many they are; nor the rhetoric of our prayers, how eloquent they be; nor the geometry of our prayers, how long they be; nor the music of our prayers, how sweet our voice may be; nor the logic of our prayers, how argumentative they may be; nor the method of our prayers, how orderly they may be; nor even the divinity of our prayers, how good the doctrine may be, --which God cares for. ..Fervency of spirit is that which availeth much."
Bishop Hall

"The effective (fervent) prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much."
James 5:16

But it is a delicate dance of fervency and "not my will, but Thine be done..."
I spent many hours of my childhood looking for arrowheads in the southwest and cherish my collection.  They are objects of beauty, but also tell a story of something lost, left unretrieved, which I was later able to find even a hundred years or so later.  I imagine the hands that shaped the arrowhead and the studious face that took the art seriously for survival. Just as I found an arrowhead among the gravel at the edge of the Lake of the Ozarks, once an arrowhead appeared at my feet where waves lapped at the shore of the ocean in the midst of tumbled rocks like a gift from ages past.  Likewise, I believe all my prayers have been collected even when I feel they were lost to me in my weak strength, even when they fell short of their target.  None really failed to reach their mark in the heart of God.  No prayer is ever wasted.  True prayer is not a demand: that is aimed at oneself and leaves self-inflicted wounds.  True prayer is a call to God's heart though it falls short, He still hears.

I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails;
I shall believe the Hand which never fails,
Firm seeming evil worketh good for me;
And though I weep because those sails are battered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered,
'I trust in thee.'
I will not doubt, though all my prayers return
Unanswered from the still, white Realm above;
I shall believe it is an all-wise Love
Which has refused those things for which I yearn;
And though at times I cannot keep from grieving,
Yet the pure ardor of my fixed believing
Undimmed shall burn,
I will not doubt, though sorrows fall like rain,
And troubles swarm like bees above a hive;
I shall believe the heights for which I strive
Are only reached by anguish and by pain;
And though I groan and tremble with my crosses,
I yet shall see, through my severest losses
The greater gain.
I will not doubt; well anchored in the faith,
Like some staunch ship, my soul braves every gale,
So strong its courage that it will not fail
To breast the mighty unknown sea of Death.
Oh, may I cry when body parts with spirit,
'I do not doubt,' so listening worlds may hear it,
With my last breath.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Later that same daughter,
after praying for Grandma's flu asked,
"Did Grandma get out of her tree yet?"
(flu/flew, get it?)
I'm glad my grandchildren pray for me,

but I'm also glad we have an all-wise God
who knows best how to answer.

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