No greater intimacy exists, than between that of the human heart…and the Creator who made it beat ~ R.B.
This would appear to be a pretty cut and dry question. Either “yes” I do believe or “no” I do not believe that God answers prayer. However, the truth is, absolutely nothing that involves spiritual matters is that simple when we get real honest about it. To begin with, the first question would have to be, “Is there a belief in God?” and if so, “What is the belief about God?”
It might seem rather pointless to ask the first question, because it would seem that if someone doesn’t believe in God, then prayer is irrelevant to them. The truth is however, when faced with certain moments and circumstances in life such as: (A terminally ill child or other loved one; Hitting a life circumstance that no one, (including one’s self), can help with; Facing one’s own imminent death; etc…), it has not been unheard of that these moments have lead to a form of prayer, irregardless of the belief system (or lack thereof).
The second question is of importance because, depending on someone’s perception or idea of God, this can greatly influence what, (if anything), they will go to God about. For example: If there is a belief that God is a vast, unknown, inconceivable being – this could lead to feeling a lack of connection or intimacy, that would cause one to not see the point in sharing feelings and experiences; If there is a belief that God is impersonal, busy and/or punishing – this could lead to feeling timid, burdensome or even afraid of sharing openly and honestly; If someone believes God only cares about what they do themselves, there can be a feeling that perhaps no communication should happen except in giving “progress reports” as opposed to “requests that cause a reliance to develop”.
So this brings us to what the “need” is for prayer to begin with because: Would this conversation ever really happen within ourselves or among each other unless we found ourselves in need of God, and a need to communicate in such a way that would alleviate distress and/or satisfy a longing?
Before continuing, I would like to preface by saying that all I have to offer is what I have personally come to find as true. A friend expressed an interest in this topic, so I decided to share my thoughts. My hope in so doing is, (at the very least), to provoke thought on something that I personally believe to be of great importance, especially for those dealing with the life and death matter of addiction recovery.
For those facing the reality that: (1) The use of mind altering chemicals, can not be done in a way that allows them to function successfully and (2) Quitting, (or more importantly), “staying quit” is virtually impossible through the use of personal willpower, determination or intellect…A decision has to be made to go outside of “self” in order to attain the power to accomplish this life saving solution. This is often initially done by reaching out to a human power, (treatment, therapy, supportive friend, mentor, etc…), but the unavoidable truth that eventually arises, is the fact that while these things are helpful – they alone can not provide what is needed to “stay quit”. In fact, for those who perhaps do remain abstinent for a short or even long period of time without this spiritual component, restlessness and misery become frequent bedfellows. So why does this happen?
Dr. William D. Silkworth described it as a spiritual malady, (or an ailment of the spiritual nature), that had to be overcome. The reason for this being that untreated alcoholism/addiction, is not only a physical and mental condition, but is also spiritual in nature. It is in this spiritual area where the individual striving for recovery may find themselves in an overall state of irritability and discontentment, even though the chemicals have been out of the body and the fog lifted for a considerable time. It is also in this state, that there is a deep longing for the intimacy once experienced with the mood altering chemical that was once a successful solution. (The very chemical that for so long did for them what they could not do for themselves and that knew them better than anyone else on the planet ~ accepting them just as they were…no matter what.)
The recovering person is faced with the prospect of beginning a spiritual journey with a God that they may or may not know, and in fact may or may not even believe in yet. This process takes place through the application of 12 action based spiritual principles which are of course, not done only once, (but once understood), are then practiced as a way of life on a daily basis, culminating in a journey towards intimacy with a long lasting “spiritual” Higher Power, (God), as opposed to a temporal synthetic one.
In order to apply these 12 action based spiritual principles and get the desired results, God must be included in this process. An example of this would be: In the 4th step where one examines and documents personal motives, pains, fears, resentments, etc… (Many of which have never been looked at or discussed since their occurrence for fear of being overcome by them) The person, who once thought that allowing these painful moments to be brought to light would lead to their destruction, finds instead, that they in fact were able to list them and often even experience relief in so doing. With each step the fears are met with action and reliance upon something Greater than self, (God), and results are obtained.
In the end, each walks away having arrived at a spiritual location that perhaps was never reached before, (as mentioned in the 12th step): Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps… No more simply “hoping” that “if” there was Something out there greater than self – that it might help…but a shift to “knowing”, (because of the action taken in the steps and the results obtained), that indeed there “is” a God and that God loves and is with them. This process is no different than what is needed for us to shift from having an acquaintance that we know and “think” is a good person, to the “give and take” that must occur for that very same person to become a best friend. Intimacy comes about through the actions taken and the results obtained.
So we arrive at the original question: “Does God answer prayer?” My answer is a resounding “YES”. I don’t “think” this, but rather I “know” this because of what are now years of actions and results. But my yes can only (at best) inspire someone else. For you to know, you have to be willing to take the chance by acting and getting your own results. I can only say to you that it is worth it ~ a thousand times…it is worth it!
© 2013-2015 Rebecca Balko