Monday, May 14, 2007


Yesterday our middle son was having some pretty severe acid reflux from his stomach--resulting in a lot of pain for him and a lot of being grossed out by the rest of the family as he constantly deposited the effects of the reflux into a bin he kept with him. By 10:30 last night, we were bracing ourselves for a long night. He couldn't lie down because it made things worse; and he couldn't fall asleep sitting up.

I've been thinking a lot about prayer lately (probably more thinking than doing, unfortunately). Some of this has been because of the VTech incident and my musings on why God doesn't always keep us safe [see May 1 and following posts]; but also because I've been mulling my way through Philip Yancey's new book, Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference? I find Yancey to be very insightful and profound and highly recommend his books to everyone. But this one is challenging. There are lots of examples (to which we could all add many more) of good, sincere people asking God for things that don't seem unreasonable, and being met with deafening silence. And yet somehow, we keep praying and asking. What else can we do?
So last night as I sat in bed with my son I prayed, "God let him sleep tonight. I'm not asking for a miraculous cure, just some rest for his body and for ours." In 30 seconds he was sound asleep, and stayed that way the whole night. This morning he was up reflux-ing again right where he left off.
I think that one part of becoming a spiritually mature person is to orient oneself toward, or to see the world through, faith. Did an answer to prayer happen last night? Would he have fallen to sleep if I hadn't uttered those pleas to God? I suppose there will always be competing realities for people of faith and people without faith--like the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon strip where the tiger is alive in Calvin's perspective on the world, but not in anyone else's perspective. Life is sure a lot more interesting and fun with a live tiger.


entirelysimulated said...

If the analogy holds, there's only a thin sliver separating belief from pretense. Calvin behaves as if the tiger is alive. Surely, an interesting life, or at least a cartoon. Fictionalist faith?

J. B. Stump said...

So I guess I wouldn't push the analogy with faith too far, but in the cartoon the tiger IS alive for Calvin. The author of the strip never tries to resolve the tension between perspectives. I guess you could read that a couple of ways: very anti-correspondence theory of truth; or Calvin is deluded; or, my preference is to think that everyone else in the strip is missing (or is dead to) a feature of reality that Calvin is alive to.

entirelysimulated said...

I am sympathetic to that. I too have kids that make me give the Aaronic blessing to their stuffed bears. And even allow the inanimate ones to "give it" back to me. However, precisely because the life of prayer thrusts us into an "enchanted world" we need a much sharper distinction between pretense and reality. After all, we wouldn't want to pray just to feel safe, or to feel that He protects us at every step.

Mops said...

The incident with Trevor is one more affirmation for the power of prayer. I've seen too many incidents like this one to discount it to anything else.