Prayer and Praying: July 2003 Archives

Possibility and Probability


Possibility and Probability

More considerations on prayer--I truly believe "With God all things are possible" (in contingent being--to sidestep an extra-axiomatic problem). When I pray am I required to consider the probability of the event before I pray. That is to say, if there is a desired result on my heart that is very, very unlikely do I need necessarily consider the odds before presenting the need to God? I would say no. And yet there are legitimate arguments to suggest that it would be valid to do so. I leave others to trace them (classic math text ploy--the rest of the proof is obvious and left to the reader). However, as long as one is willing to accept God's will at the end, it would seem valid to pray for ANYTHING, no matter how unlikely. As long as we are willing to accept that miracles are at God's discretion, we can pray for healing for someone on their deathbed.

Is the prayer efficacious if the person dies? It depends upon frame of reference. Obviously, it wasn't efficacious in obtaining the desired end of the pray-er. But from God's point of view, it was imminently efficacious--the pray-er opened up lines of communication and shared with God the deepest needs of his or her heart.

So it would seem that consideration of probability is not necessary before engaging in prayer. The question comes down to do we honestly believe "With God ALL things are possible." (Remember the blanket caveat--so we don't need to engage in the metaphysics of ontology). It has been revealed to us and demonstrated time and time throughout history in the lives of the Saints and in the nature of history itself.

God is the God of possibilities--there is nothing He cannot do. There may be things He WILL not do, but nothing is beyond Him. Do I need to ask about the probability of God's choosing to do one thing or another. I don't think so. I think I must merely revel in the God of possibilities who blesses me beyond all blessing.

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More on Prayer


More on Prayer

Also from a response on Mr. da Fiesole's Blog. I wrote there much of what is presently on my heart and in my mind about prayer in general.

What I do believe and stand on is "With God all things are possible." IF they are possible, then it is not impermissable to consider them. And IF they are possible and someone is in desperate need of assistance to make them plausible, it would be remiss of me to deny that to them. But it doesn't mean they are saved by my prayers or even that it is likely that they will be. Nevertheless, what does the phrase mean if some things are patently impossible?

Does the possibility require one to pray as though it were a probability? No. Does it require one to pray for this particular intention at all? No. Some are moved to pray in this way, some in that. We needn't force all into the same mode of prayer--"we are many parts but all one body." If one is not strongly moved to pray, or the prayer is something one is indifferent about but can be folded into a larger intention--why should one pray as another is led?

Prayer is conversation with God and communion with Him. If I should be led to tell Him about my sorrow concerning the state of the world that results in such a miserable end to such truly terrible people--that is what God wants me to work on. Perhaps it is something He wishes me to think about because I am so hard and difficult a person myself--prideful, self-centered, quick to take offense and slow to forgive. Perhaps this subject of conversation allows Him to say things to me that He does not need to say to others who have other sharp corners to smooth.

So, while I say it is right and permissable to pray for the possibility of salvation for these people, I cannot see it as a responsibility.

What I DO see necessarily as a Christian responsibility is not to rejoice in their deaths. It is fine to be relieved, to acknowledge that the world is not the less for their loss, and that many people will be better off. But rejoicing and dancing about at the letting of blood is certainly not a Christian spectacle--and it was for that reason I first started my thread regarding the personal responsibility I felt for prayer.

God has given each freedom and in that freedom is included the freedom about what to pray about. God has an ongoing conversation with each person who will listen to Him. The subject matter of that conversation is unique to the individual.

Prayer is a gift of communication and it should be used as the Holy Spirit leads. If one is led to prayer it should be on God's terms, not on any other.

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An Interesting Paradox


Reflecting this morning on God and His mysterious ways, I stumbled upon what is probably an ancient paradox, but I state it here again because it is so valuable. God wants us to be not in a place of comfort but in a place of peace. We are often willing to make very large concessions to remain in an oasis of physical, intellectual, and emotional comfort. We are creatures of entropy--we like things to run smoothly as they have always run.

But God does not want this for us. I'm sure that He has nothing against comfort, but comfort is not the highest good and the name of comfort is often used to mask a serious malady, a deep spiritual malaise. There is nothing wrong with having money, but a great deal wrong with betraying tens or hundreds of people to get that money. And money alone may buy comfort, but it does not buy true peace.

Soren Kierkegaard is quoted in a number of sources as saying that if you are comfortable around Jesus, then you don't know Him. Jesus is a constant challenge to our integrity, our image of self, and our complacency about our situation. If we think that we're really good pals with Jesus, then we are more likely to be Judas than John.

Jesus challenges us constantly to attack the unjust status quo. We are to fight for the oppressed and be a voice to the voiceless. Thus, I have seen an inclination in Christian circles to attack those who go out to save baby seals and rain forests; however, the real edge of that attack should not be the concern thereby expressed for the proper stewardship of Earth's resources, but the practical hypocrisy of those groups that then march in favor of abortion. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a strong sense of the sacredness and wonder of Nature, a strong affinity for what St. Francis and St. John of the Cross both loved. But if that comes uncoupled from an even stronger love for God and His Word, then it strays from the true.

Jesus challenges us to reevaluate our preconceptions, misconceptions, and viewpoints at all times. He forces us to examine motives, actions, and thoughts. And yet in all of this, while there may be no comfort, there can be great peace.

His Peace transcends words--even for St. Paul--and it doesn't come in complacency and comfort. His Peace comes when we truly love Him. It cannot come otherwise. It is rather like a married couple truly in love--where the spouse is, peace may be, even though the world all around them is in turmoil. There may be challenges to comfort, obstacles to resting in His peace, but in Love with Him, there is always peace. This is one of the great witnesses of the Martyrs. Truly they showed magnificent love of Jesus Christ, but equally they show amazing peace with all things around them.

So, part of our prayer time could profitably be spent examining whether we are resting in His peace, or relying upon creature comforts. If the latter, we might need to spend a bit of time discerning where God wants us to be and what He wants us to be doing because , "our hearts are restless until they rest in thee, O Lord."

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Prayer and Praying category from July 2003.

Prayer and Praying: June 2003 is the previous archive.

Prayer and Praying: August 2003 is the next archive.

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