Friday, March 31, 2006

Prayer doesn't work! Good!

A headline item in today's CBC news:

Prayer has no effect on heart patients in U.S. study.
Last Updated Thu, 30 Mar 2006 14:26:55 EST
CBC News

Having people pray for heart bypass patients had no effect on their recoveries in an American study, researchers say.

And I say, "Amen!"

Why? Because I don't believe in prayer? Because I don't believe in intercession?

Not at all. Prayer is an awesome privilege which God uses in blessing individuals and the world. Prayer is powerful and effective, a faith-filled worship of God and celebration of his sufficiency and sovereignty in all of life!

But God is not coin-operated, even for prayer currency. We do not plug in our prayer quarter, turn God's crank, and wait for heavenly gumballs to come tumbling out of the slot.

From the abstract:
In the 2 groups uncertain about receiving intercessory prayer, complications occurred in 52% (315/604) of patients who received intercessory prayer versus 51% (304/597) of those who did not (relative risk 1.02, 95% CI 0.92-1.15).

We cannot submit God's sovereign action, even in response to prayer, to statistical calculation, confidence intervals, and numeric prediction. Underlying these types of studies is a mechanistic concept of God that I find frightening.

God hears prayer. God answers prayer, according to his infinite power, wisdom and plan. If you're a believer, you can pray confidently according to the manifold promises God pours out on you in the Bible.

If you are an unbeliever, then there is only one prayer that God is waiting to hear from you, and that is a pleading for forgiveness and salvation in the name of his Son.

Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
(Mark 1:14b-15)

If God were simply to heal you, then you may never know your need of him, and a healthy life could result in a lost and wretched eternity. C. S. Lewis called pain God's "megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

Prayer is the echo of the freedom and sufficiency of God in the heart of powerless men.
(John Piper)

So pray! And believe! And trust God's sovereign wisdom in his answer.