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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Prayer: Asking for more than healing

Speaking of prayer (story below), in "Do we have a prayer?" in The American Spectator, editor Quin Hillyer reflects on politicial activists and prayer:
Most of us have known people, too, who swear, absolutely swear, that they are alive today after some dread illness only because the prayers of others got them through. But then we wonder about those like Snow who did not survive, and none of it makes sense. Do prayers work? How? Why? And when they don't seem to, at least not by our understanding, why not?
He notes,
... we know that prayer doesn't necessarily bring comfort, or at least not "comfort" in the way the world usually understands it. Prayer does not bring comfort in the sense of ease or luxury or softness.
Ah ... word study urgently needed here: "Comfort" originally meant "strengthen" (the "com" part = with, and the "fort" part = strength). Later, "comfort" came to mean "ease" or "soothe." That created much misunderstanding around the idea that prayer "comforts" people.

Here is my view as a Catholic Christian: I have myself benefited from several healings that could only be attributed to the power of prayer, however understood. I would encourage anyone to pray, even if they are not a religious believer. Just say, "I know I am not a good person, but this feels too hard for me to bear. If You are out there, help me, please, at least to understand what is happening to me."

The main role of prayer is to put us in touch with God's view of our situation. We benefit from prayer to the extent that it does that. We benefit little from prayer if we view it as a way to make God do what we want.

In that case, even if we seem to get what we want for now, we will not grow into the people we should be. And there will come a time when we don't get what we want, and we also did not learn anything that would help us see the bigger picture. So we stop praying, and stop growing spiritually. Which is very sad because healing is only one of the benefits of prayer.

We are all going to die someday, which means that all healings are temporary. So I would say, by all means ask for healing, but don't stop there. Ask for insight too, for the day when healings come to an end.

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