Recently I came across a quote by the former Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple who said: “When you pray, coincidences happen and when you don’t, they don’t.” Interestingly enough that’s been my experience with coincidences happening following my prayers. Despite that I continue to have lots of questions about prayer, not doubts, questions.
What is prayer? What happens when I pray? What difference does prayer make? Would it make any difference if I didn’t pray? Should I pray for something specific and expect to get what I ask for? Plus a few others.
I pray because Jesus prayed. Prayer was important to Jesus in his relationship with God, and as a follower of Jesus I need to deepen my relationship with God. Prayer is the way to do it.
For me prayer is simply being open to God. When open I communicate with God and God communicates with me, and coincidences happen. Simple. As if! Being open to God 24/7 is a problem for me. God’s always open for business, it’s me who shuts down.
To mix metaphors, being open means I have to be tuned into God. Every moment of every day, everything I do, everything I say must be on God’s wave length. But they’re not. So often I’m so self-absorbed that the connection shuts down. Then, I’m on my own, and things go haywire.
When I’m open coincidences happen, something turns up - a thought pops into my head, a comment is made by someone, something I hear on the television or words I read in a book - something lets me know what to say or do or expect. It can happen at any moment, and when I’m open to God, wow.
Being open to God also means I have to hold lightly to life. I have to be prepared to let go of anything that’s stops me ‘hearing’ God. That’s okay if I’m happy with what God’s asking of me. If I’m not happy then problems arise.
I’m rather attached to many things in my life and if God suggests I let it go then there’s an issue. There then follows a rather intense conversation with God and inevitably the big question arises. Am I prepared to make the sacrifice, to let go of something which stops me doing what God is asking of me and getting in the way of my relationship with God? Prayer is not easy!
Prayer at times of crises is a major problem. There are the crises close to home and crises like the Ebola virus and Islamic State which are far-removed and which I can do nothing about.
In prayer I know what I want to happen, but opening myself completely up to God can be extremely difficult. I have no answer when what happens seems so unfair. When that happens I have to trust God completely for the present and the future.
For crises like the Ebola virus and Islamic State I believe that God takes my prayers and somehow ‘uses’, them. However, I still have to be open to the possibility that in some way I may be able to respond, even in a small way, to make a difference.
Prayer, who’d do it? Me, because when I don’t I’m all out of sorts. When I do coincidences happen, and I would even go as far as to say miracles happen.
Pray and see the ‘Coincidences’,
Rev. Grahame Lockhart