[asa] prayer & God's response / intervention

From: Merv <mrb22667@kansas.net>
Date: Sun Dec 10 2006 - 17:46:05 EST

I would like to get any responses any of you care to give to the excerpt
below -- especially the part I emphasized. (from Philip Yancey's recent
book "Prayer", p. 237.)

    As we have seen, Jesus himself set limits to the requests he made.
"Take this cup," he asked, and then added the modifier about the
Father's will. He prayed that Peter's faith would hold firm, but not
that Peter avoid all testing. He declined to pray for angels' help in
rescuing him from execution.
    So, too, do we all set limits to our prayers. Some things we can
ask for unconditionally, such as forgiveness, and compassion for the
poor, and progress in growing the fruit of the Spirit. Other requests
are conditional, such as Paul's plea for relief from the "thorn."
_***Some we refrain from asking out of respect for the natural laws that
govern the planet.***_ [Emphasis added] I pray that God will help my
uncle cope with diabetes, but not that God restore his amputated leg.
Nor do I pray that God would shift the orbit for the planet Earth to
counteract global warming. Instead, I ask what my own role should be in
helping my uncle and in addressing environmental concerns.

[end of excerpt]

While I think Yancey's approach is right-on, I can't help thinking that
the skeptics find it convenient that prayers are limited to the possible
things. Evangelical "faith-healing" churches will often have walls
displaying discarded paraphernalia such as crutches or wheel-chairs, but
you never see any glass eyes there or prosthetic limbs cast away after a
real limb is miraculously replaced. It just doesn't happen. Or as
Yancey noted in the same book, some diseases defy miraculous cure ---
pancreatic cancer, ALS, or cystic fibrosis --- Yancey says he there
hasn't been a documented healing of such (and he gets thousands of
correspondences regarding answered and unanswered prayers alike.)

So should we accept "natural law" as a limit to God's works in light of
his apparently lavish promise that "whatever ye ask ..." ? Of course,
Yancey treats the balance of Scripture which tempers such apparent
promises with others like in James --- you ask but do not receive
because ... But that doesn't undo the fact that Jesus' statements at
time include no such qualifiers and we are forced (much to the skeptic's
delight) to infer qualifiers based on actual experience.

--merv

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Received on Sun Dec 10 17:43:59 2006

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