Aug 17, 2007

the reality of our prayers

Check it out.

Some 7-Eleven stores have re-branded to become Kwik-E-Marts. It was all part of a big marketing plan to hype the new Simpsons movie. You could pick up some Krusty O's cereal and some Buzz cola (but thankfully no Duff beer - after some smart consideration on the company). A dozen stores were transformed around the country, with another 6,000 staying the same but carrying the unique items.

It kind of got me thinking about how intriguing it is when the intangible becomes tangible. If you've ever watched The Simpsons you will note that when the people pray they often find God answering their prayer almost immediately (and sometimes sarcastically).
For instance, Homer Simpson and Ned Flanders are playing golf when Ned swings and misses. Homer chews him out and makes fun of his faith, to which Ned looks up and says, "God? It's me... Ned." Suddenly the ball goes in, Ned thanks God, and God reaches down an affirming hand as He says, "Okalee-dokalee."

There's always the counter-side to this, though, where we box God out from responding because we assume He won't. There was the time when Marge wants to tell Homer that she is pregnant with their third child. Homer interrupts:

Can’t talk now, praying.

Dear Lord, the gods have been good to me and I am thankful. For the first time in my life everything is absolutely perfect the way it is. So here’s the deal: you freeze everything as it is and I won’t ask for anything more. If that is OK, please give me absolutely no sign. [pause] OK, deal. In gratitude, I present you this offering of cookies and milk. If you want me to eat them for you, please give me no sign. [pause] Thy will be done. [eats food]

Though real prayer is not the magical formula that it appears to be on The Simpsons, over 1200 studies have been conducted in the last few years exploring the connection between prayer and healing. Some of these have suggested that praying to God brings often mysterious results.
In 1999 researchers at the Duke Clinical Research Institute experimented with intercessory prayer and found it had a positive effect on health even when patients did not know they were being prayed for. Out of 150 patients with heart problems who were randomly assigned to five treatment groups, only one group received only the usual medical care. Others received standard treatment plus one of four different types of alternative therapy: healing touch, relaxation, imagery or secretive off-site intercessory prayer. At the end of treatment researchers found that patients receiving alternative care showed a 30% reduction in “adverse outcomes” compared with people in the standard-care-only group, but patients in the prayer group fared best, with adverse outcomes reduced 50% to 100% compared to the standard therapy group.

Another article in The Archives of Internal Medicine agreed that patients who had been prayed for had better medical outcomes. Dr. Herbert Benson, director of Harvard University’s Mind/Body Medical Institute, called the relationship between prayer and healing being “hard-wired to God.”

So as we wade through a world where Barnes and Noble sells the jelly beans from Harry Potter and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurants tip a hat to the movie "Forrest Gump," how often will our prayers "come true?" (Please note the quotes - prayers are not wishes but meant to create a two-way communication of transformation with God)
So... at what point in our prayers does God say, "Doh!" versus the times He says, "Tank you, come again!"
I'm not sure.
But I do know this... if I had the power of God for a day, I'd probably change a whole lot in the world. Yet if I had the wisdom of God for a day, I probably wouldn't change a thing.
Except Tony Myles, that is.

1 comment:

Thurman8er said...

Excellent thoughts here.

We are just finishing a two-month series on prayer and I'm concerned that we're no better about it than we were when we started.

I guess for some, God will always be the Genie in the bottle. All I can do is keep talking to Him and continue to grow my own relationship.