THE QUESTION OF HOW PRAYER WORKS TOOK CENTER STAGE IN A SMALL WEST VIRGINIA COMMUNITY LAST MONTH.
WHEN THE SAGO MINE EXPLODED AND THIRTEEN MINERS WENT MISSING...IT WAS TO THE CHURCH UP THE ROAD FROM THE MINE THAT FAMILIES AND FRIENDS WENT TO PRAYER.
FOR TWO DAYS THEY PRAYED FOR THE SAFE RETURN OF THE MINERS. THEN LATE ONE NIGHT THEY BELIEVED THEIR PRAYER HAD BEEN ANSWERED ONLY HOURS LATER TO LEARN THAT ALL BUT ONE OF THE MINERS WERE DEAD.
THAT NIGHT I GOT AN EMAIL FROM RIC WILBANKS, ONE OF OUR VIEWERS, QUESTIONING WETHER PRAYER WORKS AT ALL.
HE AGREED TO SIT DOWN AND SHARE HIS BELIEF THAT "NOTHING FAILS LIKE PRAYER."
"So when I saw those people in West Virginia a week or two ago, they look pretty earnest, they looked like they believed, said Rick Wilbanks. "And they really looked like they believed after they got their prayer answered, they were exclaiming such. Very jubilantly, and I understand why they would, but that prayer wasn't answered, clearly. The point is I don't see prayer working and every time that it is alleged to work I see coincidence that as...that there are always one or more logical, in fact even more probable reasons why the event happened."
TO ANSWER RICK'S QUESTION WE WENT TO THE PLACE WHERE HUNDREDS OF MINISTERS ARE TRAINED EVERY SEMEMSTER, DALLAS THEOLOCIAL SEMINARY.
We spoke with Dr. Stan Toussaint, a former pastor and minister, now a senior professor at the seminary.
"The scriptures do say the prayer does work. That does not mean that the answers are easy," says Toussaint. Prayer....the simplest definition I know of prayer, is prayer is asking God for something. Every single Greek word, and there are at least seven different Greek words used for prayer, everyone means to ask for something. I think the Lord wants us to pray, just like you say Clint, it is a demonstration of our faith, pray like this. So to me prayer is a great demonstration of our faith. A tremendous, contenious demonstration of our faith."
BUT FOR PEOPLE LIKE RICK WILLBANKS, THE QUESTION OF WHY REMAINS. HE POINTS TO SCRIPTURES LIKE MATTHEW 21 THAT SAYS "WHATEVER YOU ASK IN PRAYER YOU WILL RECIEVE IF YOU HAVE FAITH."
"So yes," says Wilbanks, "I think things are going to happen and I don' think that prayer is going to change those events."
BUT DR. TOUSSAINT SAYS THAT MANY TIMES THOSE KIND OF PRAYERS INCLUDE THINGS THAT ARE NOT IN GOD'S PLAN. IN OTHER CASES THEY MAY BE SELF SERVING REQUESTS.
BUT TRYING TO EXPLAIN WHAT HAPPENED TO PRAYERS, LIKE THOSE OF THE FAMILIES IN VIRGINIA, IS DIFFICULT TO EXPLAIN. TOUSSAINT ADMITS THERE ARE TIMES WHEN THERE IS NO ANSWER TO THE QUESTION WHY.
"I've stood before an open grave as a pastor with my arm around a young couple with a little white casket in front of them. And I can't say anything," says Toussaint. "I just weep with them and pray with them because I don't understand why this child died with sudden infant death syndrome. Why? I don't know. I just have to say that God is God, that is where faith comes. We just have to say I don't know and trust God."
A DIFFICULT TASK FOR THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF PRAYER..BUT ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE FOR THOSE WHO DON'T.
CLINT YEATTS, KLTV 7 NEWS.
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