Does prayer work?
Three events have occurred recently that have caused me to look at prayer afresh.
The first is a discussion we have been having as a small congregation, at the church I attend in Villa Obregon, this summer on some of the nagging questions that surround our prayers. As a jumping off point, we have been using Philip Yancey's book on Prayer.
The second was an essay (How I lost my faith in prayer) posted by my pal Al Lanier almost a month ago. He is active in his church in San Miguel de Allende. But he has recently undergone a crisis of faith in his prayer life. He prays about friends in need, but he does not see the answers he expects.
The third involves another blogger in San Miguel de Allende: Shannon Casey of Rat Race Refugee. I knew Shannon and her husband Todd before I moved to Mexico.
Todd wrote an informative blog about his life in a housing development just outside of Pátzcuaro. I was particularly interested in what he had to say about the development because I was seriously considering buying a house there. I finally met them in person just as they were planning to move away from
And move they did -- to San Miguel de Allende, where they are now living. I try to see them on each visit I make to the highlands.
Last May, in a multi-installment post (Well That Was An Eye Opener!), Shannon told us of a recent diagnosis of cancer -- and her surprise at the cost of getting treatment. Mexico is well-known for its affordable health care. But "affordable" is often the most relative of terms.
Shannon has an incredibly open and honest way of writing. And that is how she approached the financial question involved in her cancer treatment. She told us the two of them were most likely going to experience financial problems. The only question was when. The answer came quickly -- "now."
Todd sent me a message Sunday morning that the time has come to rely upon the kindness of strangers -- and friends and family. To defray her chemotherapy expenses, Todd has set up an online donation site.
That brings me back to Al's post on prayer. He had been praying specific content prayers for people with terrible diseases. And he could not see answers. At least, the answers he was expecting. Instead, his friends were dying -- as we all must.
Al's answer was simple:
Stew and I developed our own response, a very undramatic routine of regularly checking on the grieving relatives; maybe offering to bring them a bucket of take-out food (from the one awful Chinese restaurant in town); inviting them to go out to some restaurant or event, and other modest efforts to try and break through the fog of grief that choked our friends' lives at the time.Of course, Al had not lost his faith in prayer. Instead, he put his hands to work building God's kingdom on earth. And I know of no greater faith than that.
We didn't effect any miracles. Our friends died. The survivors cried, and we hugged them. We attended memorials. Life moved on. That's all we could do.
It is time for me to do likewise. Shannon, of course, has been in my prayers since she told us about the cancer. But my prayers require action.
And I am now asking you to join me in giving a hand to both Shannon and Todd. They have set a goal of $6,500. Within 23 hours of the posting, generous folk had donated $930 -- 14% of the total. I am certain that figure is larger this morning.
We can do better than that. And, as soon as I finish this draft, I will do my part.
If you did not see the link earlier, here it is: https://life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/1358319/x/11517312.
A bit of sacrifice will go a long way.