Mainline Protestant Channel
Does Prayer Really Make a Difference?
By Elizabeth Nordquist
I believe profoundly that prayer makes a difference, but I do not believe that it is a magic ring that automatically protects or a magic bullet that always gets results. Richard Rohr, in his book, The Naked Now, describes prayer as putting out a tuning fork that then aligns us with and brings us into harmony with the Mystery we call God. As I do that, prayer changes me -- my perceptions, my feelings, my creativity, my sense of responsibility.
I also believe that prayer changes the people and places for which I pray. I often pray that peace will fill the room in which I am having meetings, or surround the table at which the family is eating. I pray for people's wholeness and wellness, even when there is no curing. I invite the Presence of God to fill the places of human interaction on a daily basis, and have seen that peace that passes human understanding come and settle into a location.
What I can't know is the mind of God, or how/if/when God intervenes in human activities. So in the main, I do not pray for specific outcomes: finding a parking place, not getting a ticket if I am speeding, even a particular cure for a particular illness. Prayer for me is a relational interaction with the Holy One, where I listen, I give thanks, and I move to act on what I discover. Thanks be to God for the invitation to pray!
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Elizabeth Nordquist is Presbyterian pastor, seminary professor, and spiritual director. She blogs at A Musing Amma.