Here’s a picture that has been making the rounds recently. I think it started as an “iReport” on CNN.com. It’s from a church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
I assume the fine print is on the back.
Results include the following:
What you pray for happens: God said “Yes!”
What you prayer for doesn’t happen: “God said “No!”
What you pray for doesn’t happen, and your house burns down, your girlfriend breaks up with you, and you are paralyzed in a freak diving accident: “God wants you to learn patience, faith and endurance! He said said No to your request but said Yes to something even better!”
Results are guaranteed.
On a very related note:
A bit of random surfing last night brought me to the blog of Sam Isaacson, who I don’t know at all, but who seems like a nice, thoughtful person. He writes about Christian living and faith-related topics, including prayer and suffering.
In a post from a couple of weeks ago called, “How God Helps When We’re Suffering,” he writes:
An analogy may help. Imagine that I promised that I would buy you a brand new car in one week’s time. Now, imagine that in one week’s time, instead of buying you a brand new car, I bought you a brand new house. Only a fool would refuse to take the house, saying, ‘but you promised to buy me a car!’ What I gave to you was worth far more, was better, than what I originally promised.
The same is true of God’s promise to answer our prayer. If, for example, I’m really sick and pray to God to heal me, and He does, then that’s a great example of how He has been faithful to His promise to answer my prayer. So…what if He doesn’t? Simples! In His infinite wisdom He has determined that the best thing for me is not to be well right now, He wants to use my sickness for a greater goal, whether or not I understand it.
God will either deliver me from suffering, or give me the strength to bear it – whichever is better. The judgment of which one is better, we have to leave to Him.
How exactly this differs from the old Pagan concept of Fate is difficult to see. But I think this has become the dominant Christian understanding of prayer, especially among American evangelicals.