Monday, May 14, 2007

GOD on Mute

OK….now it is time for the Book Review called God on Mute: Engaging the Silence of Unanswered Prayer. The author Pete Grieg opens up his personal life and shares with us the story of his wife, Samie, who discovered she had a tumor in her brain the size of an orange. He elaborates on the surgery and the aftermath of the surgery and where GOD is in all of this. The book elaborates the struggles that we all have with prayers that appear not to be answered. Before I begin to quote from the book….allow me to ramble.

Everybody struggles with the reality of this thing called unanswered prayer. Many times we call out to GOD feeling that He has to answer and not only that He has to grant our requests and that is the only answer that we expect. To some, scripture is full of promises that if we only have enough faith or we will get whatever we ask (providing it is in GOD’s name and according to His will) we will get what we want.

Prayer is a very interesting thing. Many people pray for simple things: like a parking spot (I have before!) We pray for GOD to intervene when we are in trouble, we pray (and say thanks) when things have gone our way. But what do we do when GOD is silent?

I do E-devotionals for many people in our community and I sent one out and this was the reply;

Hey Gerry,

But what about the people starving in Indonesia or Africa? I don't understand why their basic needs, food and water are not being provided by God. Or at least that's how it appears. This is one of the things I struggle with personally. How do you deal with and understand that? I would love to hear your insights. Is it our fault because we do not give enough? or help enough? Children die there every day because the basics needs to survive aren't there. Please help me to understand this.

So this got me thinking about unanswered prayer! What about those who are believers but find themselves in the midst of pain and suffering and calling out to GOD to intervene?



Ian said...

At the end of 2004 my 18 year old daughter ceased to have symptoms that had plagued her for the previous 5 years. There were plenty of trips to the hospital during that time and her daily quality of life was extremely poor.

Earlier that year while sitting in the hospital room one night I broke down and all I could pray is that it was all too hard. All I could finally do was throw myself on God's mercy and that whatever the outcome would be I'd trust in God's goodness. Previously I'd gone through all the stages of bargaining, promising, taunting and railing against God to no effect. At that stage the situation was extremely bleak.

Have I worked out what prayer is - some 2 1/2 years later? No it is still an enigma. What I could say is that prayer is moving away from words and requests to an underlying thankfulness. I keep returning to Brother Lawrence's little book - The Practice of the Presence of God. Frank Laubach, a 20th century missionary to the Phillipines, also follows a similar path in constantly communing with God in very simple ways - mostly through a background awareness of God's constant presence and genuine but simple statements of thankfulness and appreciation.

I guess prayer is one of those terms we use which can take on a life of its own - we do this a lot where simple, relational practices and engagement are abstracted and systematised.

I'll wrap it up here but perhaps meaningful prayer is moving away from just words and into a constant, daily, emotional engagement with someone you love.

Does anyone else have any thoughts they can share on your experiences with prayer?

Jordan said...

When at a Holocaust Symposium a High School girl got up to ask the speaker a question. Her 1st question was: "Is name calling the only way to combat Holocaust deniers?" Nevertheless the speaker got fired up about this and started rambling on about how he combats these people and how activism against deniers will shut them down. After that, 5 words nervously flew from her mouth: "Have you ever considered prayer?” A roar had come over the audience (of whom most were non-believers) and the speaker uttered words along the lines of, "prayer doesn't work, but if you want to believe it does go ahead." OUCH? Some say prayer is a waste of breath and others say it takes a while to kick in. I say it’s all in God's hand.
He chooses when He is going to answer a prayer or when He is not. But I do not believe God is an evil tyrant who likes to see people suffer, after all He created each one of us. But He knows everything that is going to happen and why. He knows when someone’s time is up and he also knows when someone is going to be healed.
I think all you gotta do is keep praying, for God hears each and everyone of us. And each and every prayer.

filletofsoul said...

Are the people in Indonesia asking God for food? 88% of the population is Muslim (according to Compassion) Maybe Allah isn't answering. We read in the Old Testament that many nations and peoples experienced famine. What were God's reasons then?

With respect to personal prayer.... one thing that bothers me about how some people pray in our culture directly ties in with the twisted "Prosperity Doctrine" that people insist on indulging themselves in. My daughter recently shared with me that someone had told her that if she wants something (like an Ipod) she should just pray to God for it and then thank him and believe that it is hers. This upsets me! We did have a great discussion about this and I explained an unhealthy relationship is one where one person keeps asking for and expecting things from the other person. Often there is even little or no effort being put into the relationship by that person. Just like you would never want to treat another person like this, we should be careful that we never treat God in a similar fashion. God cares about our requests but when our prayers are centered on what we can get out of God, we are not in a right relationship with him. Nobody wants to be used.

As for my own prayer experience. I love to talk with God. I'm glad God answers my prayers but my prayers have changed over the years. I used to asked for specific things (I still do) but more and more I just want to see what he does and ask that he opens my eyes to what he wants to tell me. Prayer has become more of wanting to know God and less about asking him for things.

I guess I can't comment on unanswered prayer in my life. Sooner or later there has always been an answer. Sometimes that has included him changing my perspective of the situation I had been praying about.

Stephanie said...

I think Psalm 13 is a wonderful example of unanswered prayer and the peace that one can have through hard times.
"How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?

Look on me and answer, O Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
my enemy will say, 'I have overcome him,'
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I TRUST in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,

Everyone goes through tough times, sometimes heart-wrenching, painful times of apparent silence from the Lord. How much peace and hope we have during those times, I believe has a lot to do with how much we trust Him. And that has a lot to do with how much we know Him. Do we know Him enough to trust His character, even though life is swirling around us in torrents? If we do, we will find peace amid the storm. He said that if we call to Him He will answer us. And He will.

Held Captive said...

Sometimes I wonder if things really are unanswered. No is an answer...
I didn't really understand this until I had a child of my own. I so very baddly want to give her everything she wants, but I know that that wouldn't help her in the long run and would actually hinder her and I have to say no. She gets mad, has her almost two year old style tantrum, but in the end is good. Still it doesn't make anything easier...or really explain it. I kinda confuse myself when I start to ramble so I will stop before I make zero sense...

Celtic Siren said...

Gerry! Samantha Jones here... (you knew me as Samantha Grand way back in the GT days...) love this blog.... would love to chat... send me an email at sometime...

thanks for some inspiring words this Sunday morning.....

Anonymous said...

Job 9:11 (The Message Version)

"Somehow, though he moves right in front of me, I don't see him;
quietly but surely he's active, and I miss it."

(Do you think maybe He's speaking and we're not listening? God doesn't lie, and He said in Jer. 33:3 that if we call to Him He will answer us.)