I believe so I pray

Recently I have read a very good column with a razor-sharp analysis of how people look at prayer in times of trouble (in Dutch): https://www.vn.nl/als-god-in-rampzalige-tijden-niet-thuis-geeft/ (translation below)

It made me wonder: What does happens when we pray?

Why do we get our daily bread here in the west, but elsewhere Christians are starving of hunger? We pray for our governments, but worldwide they seem make a mess of it. We pray for salvation for relatives, healing of loved ones and deliverance from evil, without seeing real results. Only the occasional miracle, like a drop in the dessert. Is God actually listening? Why doesn’t he do something? He is good and almighty, isn’t he? He love’s us, doesn’t he?

The problem is we ourselves are responsible for a great deal of the misery on this planet. The earth can produce enough food for everyone and we choose our own governments most of the time. People don’t have little buttons to press on for God so they will turn towards Him. And lets be honest, a lot of illnesses are due to our ways of living. We pollute and misuse creation, are self-indulgent and love money and power.

Of course God can do miracles, but do you really think He has to put our wrongs right 24/7? That we can hit someone with our car and God will heal the victim? That we can put a lot of animals in a small space so we can have our meat cheap, and God will take care of the diseases, manure, etc.? That we can eat and drink all we want and work until we don’t drop, because God restores our bodies? Would that bring a better society?

Or should He stop us from doing bad things? He should stop the terrorist and the dictator, the child-abuser and the drunk that drives into a group of young people. But then He will also have to stop you when you want to drive but drank more than two beer. Is that what you want? No longer be able to make your own decisions? We all have nuances in right and wrong, but God doesn’t. A little bit wrong and very evil both are not good to Him. Things we would be inclined to approve don’t get the stamp ‘okay’ from God.

So, God interfering isn’t the solution to the misery in this world. It reduces us to irresponsible toddlers or zombies without a will.

Is there any point in praying then?

Yes, there is a point, because this way we open up to God. In this relationship God can work. If we pray, God folds His arm around our shoulder and answers us. He gives us wisdom, insight, patience, hope, peace, joy and more. Because for a world to be without violence, it takes people with peace in their harts. For a secure society it takes people who can love their neighbours like themselves. For the recovery of the planet it takes people who know the difference between to use and to make use of, wise people who can prioritize in the right way.

If we pray, God is going to change the world, starting with us.

Translation of the article:

When God fails to respond in disastrous times.

Lieke Marsman

In times of disaster we turn to God. “But what if that doesn’t resolve anything and therefor you placed your stake on the wrong one?”, asks Lieke Marsman.

For a lot of people who committed assaults lately, things didn’t go well. The man who recently shot gay people in America was wrestling with his own homosexuality. The attacker in Nice went through a divorce and the boy from Afghanistan who axed tourists in a train in Germany had lost a friend the weekend before.

What happens when you turn to God in times of disaster and God fails to respond? Admitting that committing to your faith maybe wasn’t the best solution for your problems only makes matters worse; you didn’t only had a problem, but you also were solving it the wrong way. In that case it is obvious you look for a solution outside yourself; God failed to respond, not because he didn’t hear your prayers, but because he was angry with all the people that didn’t worship him and/or were wearing a bikini. Those people have to be taken care of, there is no other way.

People say you loose your faith in times of trouble. But the terrorists-to-be with the most troubles are the ones that radicalise the quickest. And for the same reasons the victims of terrorism seek refuge in their faith. The days after an attack social media are full of ‘We are praying for…’ messages. But if prayer would make sense such an attack wouldn’t happen. Or do people who start praying in dramatical times believe in a God who punishes or in a God who isn’t almighty?

This piece isn’t about talking people out of their faith and also not a theodicy. At the most you could say that the number of attacks that is carried out in the name of God is an indication of how bad things were going for the population of a country, but that goes without saying I guess. Furthermore it is true that you loose your faith more easily in times of prosperity. Because when everything is going well, God is dispensable. Before you know it you have forgotten that you once crossed yourself, prayed short quick prayers or prayed five times a day to Mekka. But when you have lost your job, the harvest is over due, or a love one is seriously ill, suddenly God has to show up, a lot of people think. This way people do see God as the reason of the bad, but not of the good of witch they see themselves as the cause.