Ever prayed to a Scarecrow?
The National Institute of Health (NIH) is spending 2.2 million dollars to study the effects of prayer on people’s health. Similar studies have also been done recently by the Mind/Body Medical Institute in Chestnut Hill, Mass., Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina and the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.
As part of this newest study, the NIH hired a “shamanic healer” (not defined, but basically a sorcerer or witch doctor) to pray for a woman who was having surgery. No word yet as to whether it worked. What I want to know is who this “shamanic healer” prayed to. Did he pray to a tree for help? Did he ask his dead cousin Bob to heal this lady? Maybe a cricket or a turtle? How about a scarecrow?
Some people just don’t get it. There’s nothing special about prayer exactly. Prayer is just words. Just talking. Just asking. What makes prayer special is the “who” being prayed to. Trees, dead people, crickets and turtles can’t do anything for you. No matter how sincerely or long or passionately someone prays to a scarecrow, he isn’t going to answer. It won’t do any good.
their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them; they can do no harm
nor can they do any good.”
(Jeremiah 10:5; NIV)
That’s God talking! Trying to talk some sense into people who pray to someone or something other than Him. These “no-gods” can’t do anybody any good. Read what God told the nation of Israel when they started praying to little wooden statues:
The woodworker draws up plans for his no-god, traces it on a block of wood. He shapes it with chisels and planes into human shape—a beautiful woman, a handsome man, ready to be placed in a chapel. He first cuts down a cedar, or maybe picks out a pine or oak, and lets it grow strong in the forest, nourished by the rain. Then it can serve a double purpose: Part he uses as firewood for keeping warm and baking bread; from the other part he makes a god that he worships—carves it into a god shape and prays before it. With half he makes a fire to warm himself and barbecue his supper. He eats his fill and sits back satisfied with his stomach full and his feet warmed by the fire: “Ah, this is the life.” And he still has half left for a god, made to his personal design—a handy, convenient no-god to worship whenever so inclined. Whenever the need strikes him he prays to it, “Save me. You’re my god.” Pretty stupid, wouldn’t you say? Don’t they have eyes in their heads? Are their brains working at all? Doesn’t it occur to them to say, “Half of this tree I used for firewood: I baked bread, roasted meat, and enjoyed a good meal. And now I’ve used the rest to make an abominable no-god. Here I am praying to a stick of wood!” This lover of emptiness, of nothing, is so out of touch with reality, so far gone, that he can’t even look at what he’s doing, can’t even look at the no-god stick of wood in his hand and say, “This is crazy.”
(Isaiah 44:13-20; TM)
If you get the right “Who” then prayer is very special. It’s like asking the librarian for a book. Hiring a carpenter to fix a chair. Asking a singer for a song. If you ask the right “who” your prayer will be answered. “Answered” doesn’t mean you get whatever you ask for—like sticking a quarter in a gumball machine. Sometimes—for reasons we may never know—God says “No.” Sometimes His answer is, “Wait.” Sometimes He says “Yes!” and heals and provides and protects.
Prayer is all about relationship. God is a Father. The Father. Since becoming a father myself, I’ve come to understand these things better. Sometimes my kids ask for M&M breakfasts. Midnight bed times. Pet buffaloes. I know better than they do. The answer has to be “No.” I still love them! In fact, the answer is “No” because I love them. Sometimes they ask for the right thing at the wrong time. I ask them to be patient and “Wait.” But when they ask for the right things at the right times, I delight in saying “Yes!” God is our Father and He delights in listening to our prayers. Giving us His attention. Sharing His unfailing love with us.
The only study that needs to be done won’t cost 2.2 million dollars. These prayer scientists need to study the Bible. Study what God has said about prayer. Study the testimonies of those who wrote the Psalms.
Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. For I cried out to him for help,praising him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,my Lord would not have listened. But God did listen!He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer and did not withdraw his unfailing love from me.
(Psalm 66:16-20; NLT)