Last night's neighbourhood group meeting was very good, as I said, but there
was one point where something I said really went down like a lead balloon, and
I'm not sure that even after explanation some people knew quite what I was
driving at. The glare and almost snapped retort from the pastor's wife said it
all, really, and I nearly felt like making a hasty exit.
It was during the first part of the meeting, when we happened to be discussing
the power of prayer, and things had got on to the subject, basically, of how
and why prayer worked. The more you try to analyse this, the more holes become
apparent - why, for example, is prayer necessary at all when God is omnipotent?
Why do we have to pray repeatedly so often?
So I shared my genuine feelings that trying to understand the mechanics of
prayer is a futile exercise, and that all that mattered was that it worked.
Trying to comprehend and rationalise the infinite is a process ultimately
doomed to failure. To argue with that is - although I didn't say so - to
arrogantly claim to understand and be able to measure infinity.
The way I look at it is that prayer does work, and as a Christian, I should
partake of it. Mine is not to try and reason why that should be, but to accept
it as truth borne out by experience. By experience, we come to discover what
kind of prayer is the most effective - though I refer more to the manner in
which it is delivered than what we actually pray for.
An omnipotent God can do anything, and prayer is the channel by which we let
him know. That is why, if we pray the right way, we can get anything to
happen, and we shouldn't avoid praying for things that sound impossible. It is
our inherent lack of faith - manifesting itself as a belief that some things
are too hard for God - that causes failure of prayer.
I am perhaps very short on faith, viewing everything too rationally for my own
good. I sometimes wonder whether God really is a part of my life, or if I just
go through the motions a lot of the time. It can be quite hard in a
charismatic church when I stand in stony silence as all around me people are
apparently under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
But yet I will persevere, and perhaps stop trying to understand and rationalise
things - yes, exactly what I think others often seem to do, even within faith -
and just accept the infinite truth. I know that Jesus died for me, and I have
seen adequate proof that there is something beyond our often pathetic mortal
existence, but I still feel I have a long way to go.
I was particularly disturbed by a relative of one of those present being quoted
as saying that they had "really hoped that this would be the year they would
find God". This seemed rather strange, because I would have thought that was a
fairly easy wish to fulfil, once you realise it is what's for the best, which
rather made me wonder whether I had found him at all.
Perhaps I am really still at that hoping stage, and just waiting for something
spectacular to happen before I can really claim salvation. After all, many
people in our church have wonderful testimonies of how they came to God, and
frankly mine is depressingly boring and literally down-to-earth. Sure, I have
proclaimed Jesus as my saviour, but did God hear me?