I've never written an entry like the one that is about to unfold, but I figure what the heck? You're all my friends, and will hopefully still love me anyway if I dabble a little into religion. I'd like to say first-off that those that know me well know that I am an advocate of tolerance. Among my closest family members and friends I see proclamations of atheism, agnosticism, devout Christianity, Buddhism, questioning, and the "I don't give a rat's ass" attitude. All of these I respect in each of you. My faith has been a journey of ups and downs too, particularly within the last year and most extremely in the past month.
So here is the shift that has taken place in my perspective (which I do not proclaim to be the truth, as I am a human and have limited understanding): God has the power to intervene in whatever He wants to do in your life and in this world. However, He is not going to do it. God is not mean and He has not purposefully given you, me, or anyone else woe; He grieves with us when we grieve, and He provides comfort to us in times of sorrow and trial. He does not make a habit of providing miracles, however, and praying for them is counterproductive. I think of all of the times that I have made "prayer request" lists at Bible study meetings, presented my own requests to the Lord, or told friends that I would pray for their specific need (i.e. God please change this-and-this situation..please! please!). I think of it now as a waste of time. Whoa! This sounds extremely cynical and borne out of anger, but I promise it is not coming from an angry heart. It's not even really coming from a disappointed heart. What it's coming from is a personal epiphany that, although God loves me dearly and wants to be in communication and relation with me, He is not going to work miracles in my life, small or large, simply because I ask him to. People will make the argument to me about the such-and-such time that God cured a disease or God helped their football team win or God did a "God-thing" that only God can do. Maybe. That's a big maybe to me. What I really believe it is is a fluke of nature. Sometimes things spontaneously remit in nature, sometimes it hits some random thing and flies some random direction and perfection is created...but that doesn't mean that it's a "miracle" that God bestowed on us. Like the Robert Griffin 3 pass in the OU-Baylor game a few weeks ago that hit off a defender's hand and sailed 40 yards downfield perfectly into the arms of a waiting receiver that was NEVER the intended target but then ran on down for a beautiful and fluky touchdown, sometimes crazy stuff happens! Cool when it does! But I'm not going to spend my time praying for it because I don't think God willed it to happen.
Do I think that God is able to intervene in all things? Absolutely. I just believe He is less willing to do so than I formerly envisioned Him to be.
Do I think that prayer is thus a waste of time? Heck no! If I thought that the only benefits of prayer were for the answering of my prayer requests, what kind of follower would I be? I believe that huge benefits come from a person choosing to engage with God in communication. God can provide untold amounts of peace, comfort, wisdom, enlightenment, happiness, and self-control. Simply spending time with Him in earnest can bring these things to your life and mine through Him, and I see the benefit of asking Him to bestow those same kinds of comforts onto friends and loved ones who are grieving as well.
All of this to say, if you are my friend and you present me with prayer requests, I will tell you sincerely now that I will not pray for your situation to change because I have no faith that God is going to make that happen. I believe God is there for you though, and I will commit to praying for you that you might experience His peace and comfort as you struggle with your trial, because THAT I believe He will do. I don't know why God doesn't intervene more, but I don't believe it's because He doesn't care. And I will NEVER believe it is "His will" that something horrible has happened in your life, so you will never hear me say that, friend. God does not have a plan, in my opinion, that involves 18-year-old girls dying in car accidents, wars killing loved ones, or hideous diseases robbing us of our faculties.
Enough then. So how many of you have issues with me now? =)