Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Prayer is request (The efficacy of prayer–part 2)

The question then arises, “What sort of evidence would prove the efficacy of prayer?” The thing we pray for may happen, but how can you ever know it was not going to happen anyway? Even if the thing were indisputably miraculous it would not follow that the miracle had occurred because of your prayers. The answer surely is that a compulsive empirical proof such as we have in the sciences can never be attained.
    Some things are proved by the unbroken uniformity of our experiences. The law of gravitation is established by the fact that, in our experience, all bodies without exception obey it. Now even if all the things that people prayed for happened, which they do not, this would not prove what Christians mean by the efficacy of prayer. For prayer is request. The essence of request, as distinct from compulsion, is that it may or may not be granted. And if an infinitely wise Being listens to the requests of finite and foolish creatures, of course He will sometimes grant and sometimes refuse them. Invariable “success” in prayer would not prove the Christian doctrine at all. It would prove something much more like magic—a power in certain human beings to control, or compel, the course of nature.

Here’s an interesting response to this reading from Lewis. It’s a song called “Unanswered Prayers” by Garth Brooks – so popular that his fans in Ireland were able to sing it with him.

C.S. Lewis, “The Efficacy of Prayer,” originally from The World’s Last Night and Other Essays, here from The Essential C.S. Lewis (Touchstone, 1996) 379.

1 comment:

  1. Gary, this may appear too simplistic.  The rule of thumb for me is, if I may, break it down to its lowest common denominator, is this.  When I sense in my mind or heart which is part of my mind, God calling me to prayer which is many times during the course of a day.  I make a choice to respond or to ignore.  To ignore is harsh to my friend and I equally suffer, and I am constantly guilty of that.  It is no different than when I want to communicate with my daughters and they don't have any time.  Somewhat reminiscent of Harry Chapin's song "Cats in the cradle."

    God desires to communicate with us each day like He did with our first parents in the garden, and they in turn looked forward to Him coming and engaging them in conversation until sin reared its ugly head in the form of the serpent.

    God came to them in the cool of the day and called Adam, "where are you?"  He said "I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked and hid myself" God asked "who told you that you were naked?"  God does't was waste any time He gets to the core immediately.

    Whenever I go contrary to the Christian principles of this life I want to run away and God is immediately calling me back through the third Person of the Godhead the Holy Spirit and He is like prodigal's father waiting for his son's return.  Unlike the parable the Holy Spirit comes after us to woo us back into the fold.

    Prayer is communication between two lovers, and lovers love one another lack of communication is like torture for them. This is the communication God our heavenly Father desires to have with us and the fellowship is restored.