It was about a year ago that the Bolivian miners were rescued from the bowels of the earth. I was so deeply touched by their ordeal and the heroic efforts to rescue them and when they were successfully brought to the surface of the earth again, I was even further moved. I remember praying for them daily and when they were rescued I thanked the good Lord for his mercy.
This experience helped me to further understand the mystery of prayer. Even as I prayed, I knew that there was no God “up there” with really big ears, considering the prayer volume from around the world, and pondering over what he would do. And I certainly knew that my simple little prayer, coming from someone so completely obscure, was not going to persuade God to intervene. And when they were rescued, I’m afraid the cynical thought crossed my mind, “Hmm. Now what’s going to happen when the next mine disaster occurs? Will God be so merciful? And if not, why?” Sure enough, within the next month or so two more mining disasters took place and everyone of the miners died.
So, why pray? Is it just a foolish gesture like so many of our intellectual hoity-toity contend? Perhaps so. I just don’t know. But, even with all of these doubts and suspicions of my own cowardice, I pray daily. One could say that I even “pray without ceasing.” I do this, first of all, because it centers me and calms me. And that is one important dimension of prayer. But I also pray because spiritual teachers from eons past…and present…speak of the importance of prayer. Does it make a difference? I have no definitive answer but these aforementioned spiritual teachers suggest that it does. If nothing else, it releases good karma and hope into this void that has us all.
And a central issue in all of this speculation is, “Is there a God?” I believe there is but He is far beyond our intellectual grasp and can be known only with a faith that is willing to look beyond our rational mind. He is so transcendent that we cannot own him like the fundamentalist believe. BUT, he also is immanent as in “the kingdom is within” and he is with us each moment and there is a critical sense in which He is us. Or, as Paul put it, “nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”