Worthy of help?
The Rev. Duke Tufty, pastor of Unity Temple on the Plaza, Kansas City, Mo.: Over the years I have engaged in prayer with people for many different reasons. Sometimes what they prayed for happened. Sometimes it didn’t.
Is there a God somewhere in the heavens judging what prayers to answer and what prayers not to? If so, what criteria does that God use? Does he answer prayer based on a person’s worthiness; how often one goes to church; how desperate or incapable one is?
I believe the answer to all of the above is no. Whatever your conception is of God, an old man on a throne or the spiritual energy of the universe that is the essence of your being, God doesn’t intervene in our lives. Every living thing has been given everything it needs to live a comfortable and fulfilling life. As human beings we have intelligence, power, imagination, faith, perseverance and many other spiritual attributes.
At times life can be very difficult, but we have been given what is necessary to rise above, move beyond or successfully manage situations and circumstances that arise. We might not like the end result at times, but that’s life. When faced with challenges I suggest you get off your knees, back on your feet and step forward, knowing one step at a time, one day at a time will lead you out of the darkness and into the light.
Not what you expected
The Rev. Justin Hoye, pastor of St. Patrick Catholic Church, Kansas City, North: We are often terrible judges as to what is the best thing for us. When a crisis arises in our lives, we can sometimes create the conditions by which successes, relief or recoveries are measured. That is, we often wield the measuring stick in determining whether God addressed our need.
As God reveals himself in human history, through prophets and kings and eventually in the person of Jesus Christ, he demonstrates a response to our needs that refuses to be dictated by our own timelines or barometers. Instead, God surpasses hopes and expectations. He feeds the hungry with leftovers in tow. He not only forgives sins, but commands the lame to rise and walk. He miraculously produces more wine, saving the best for last.
If God does not answer in the way in which we asked him to intervene, it is not a sign of his absence or his indifference. Rather, such an occasion is an invitation to remain open to how God is addressing and responds to the cry of our hearts. In his son, Jesus, God shows how much he cares about humanity, answering our fallen condition in the most unexpected manner: “…he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave.” (Philippians 2:7) God knows our needs. May we always trust in God’s salvific care, even when not in the manner we expect.