Lately I have struggled with the nature of prayer. I have asked myself some very difficult questions. For example: (1) Does God still miraculously heal people of illnesses today, or does he use modern science to heal others? (2) Are our prayers not answered because we fail to have enough faith? (3) When we say that prayers are not answered because “it was not God’s will” or “it was not God’s timing”, does that mean that prayer is futile because we will never be able to change God’s will? These questions are just a sample of the many questions that I have pondered. I often feel like Curious George – I have so many questions – and my attempts to find the answers often lead me to mischief and/or despair.
I have a dear friend and mentor that is helping me with some of these difficult questions. My mentor is an Episcopal campus minister. The thing that I love most about him is that he always accepts me just as I am. He loves me for who I am, not who he wants me to be. He often listens to my questions, without trying to change me or judge me. When I brought some of these questions to him, he stated the importance of going on the journey that I am taking. He could not emphasize enough that asking these questions is a part of the journey that will ultimately lead me to a deeper and more fulfilling relationship with the Creator of the Universe. However, he also emphasized that I will have to come to terms with the fact that I will never have all the answers, and if I attempt to find all of the answers, I will be doomed to a life of frustration.
His advice has helped me tremendously. Too often I ask the questions because I want a definite answer. I believe that finding the right answer is the ultimate goal and end to my journey. My mentor has shown me that the questions, not the answers that I so desire, may be the end result. Perhaps the power of the Holy Spirit and our relationship with Christ grow through asking the questions, not finding the right answer. Perhaps life is ultimately about the quest for knowledge instead of the actual possession of knowledge.
My mentor left me with one other thought to ponder. He told me the story of his conversation with a member of an Indian tribe regarding the Rain Dance. My mentor asked the tribe member the success rate of the rain dance. The tribe member responded that the Rain Dance was 100 percent effective. My mentor was astounded and questioned him – did he truly mean that 100 percent of the time it rained? The tribe member responded, “We don’t stop dancing until it rains.”
Perhaps prayer is not about always getting the answer to our prayers that we desire. Prayer is also not about getting the answers to all of life’s mysteries. Instead, prayer is about being connected to God and to the world around us. Through prayer, we learn to experience God on a more intimate level that cannot be obtained through logic and reason.
I hope that we will also refuse to stop dancing until it rains …..