Pr. Cathy Daharsh
Jesus’ words about prayer this week in the Gospel of Luke bring up the question of what happens when our prayers are not answered. What happens when it’s not as simple as ask and receive?
Author Bob Hostettler says that something is happening in our connection with God, even when a prayer doesn’t seem to be answered. He says, “Sometimes prayer doesn’t work. That may be an unpopular — even blasphemous — statement. But it’s more or less true, from our human perspective at least. We pray for a healing that never comes. We ask for something to change, and it doesn’t. We plead for answers we never get. But even when a prayer isn't answered, it still works.”
I remember a story of when my niece, Kylie, was five-years old (she’s now 20.). She sat at the dinner table, nearly in tears. She stared at the chicken remaining on her plate. Her dad, my brother, had told her to take three more bites of her food, just bites, not even the whole thing before she could leave the table. She complained and cried as though eating three bites (of a food she normally loved) was going to kill her.
I sat down next her. I tried to encourage her, with no luck.
Then she looked at me with her big brown eyes with tears in them. “You could eat my chicken for me.”
“No, honey, I can’t. Your dad said you have to eat three bites.”
“But if you eat it, he’ll think I did.”
“But it would be a lie for us to let him think you ate them.”
“No, I’m sorry, honey. But I’ll sit here with you for as long as it takes. We can talk or we can sit quietly, until you eat three more bites.”
“Her plea to me didn’t work. But we sat together and talked a little until she finally managed to finish her meal.”
We may not always get our answers we want to our prayers. We may feel at times as though God isn’t listening, and definitely not cooperating. But prayer still works in those times. It continues the conversation. It reminds us that God is there. And even when, for whatever reasons, we don’t get the answers we want, prayer still can bring comfort and strength from being in God’s presence and knowing we are not alone. When we talk and pray to God, we grow closer to God, even if the answer doesn’t come in the way we imagine or hope. Amen,