Paul Poulton reflects on the power of prayer
Headlines within the last few days informed us of what could be the
first finding of an axion. Axions are, as yet unverified, subatomic
particles. In other words, they are tiny, very tiny, and hard to
Considering that 85% of the universe is made up of dark matter there are probably many more tiny bits and pieces to be discovered.
Whatever dark matter is, it seems happy to remain dark, refusing to reflect or radiate any detectable light, that's why we call it "dark".
I sometimes like to view the universe as a ball that rolls along, and, I think, that that's a fair way to view it. God started the universal ball rolling a long time ago; he doesn't need to keep attending to every particle within it because he's made laws that do that for him. Most people agree that the universe is a mechanism with complicated interlocking laws.
People who have faith in God pray to him because they know that he has the power to change things. Yes, the universe has excellent laws that govern it but it was God who put those laws in place, by his command: "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light" (Gen 1:3).
If the universe is a meaningless mechanism: created by no one, cared for by no one, having nothing as its objective, a device with intricate interlocking laws, drawn up by no one, but a device all the same, and though this device is able to produce billions of souls it has no soul guiding it because it is random chaos, then I can understand why some people call the book of Genesis a fairly story. Men and women who have faith in God don't see the universe in that light.
God uses laws, and the principles we see in creation are still around us today. For instance we could say, "Why does God need to have 100 million sperm to fertilise one egg in a woman's Fallopian tube?" God could do it with one sperm if he wanted to. Yes, he could, but he has chosen to use the principal of probability, or what is known as the law of large numbers, it's what a layman calls the law of averages. Or we could say, "Why does it rain on the sea?" It is the land that needs the rain not the sea. Furthermore, researchers have calculated that each of the billions of the stars in the Milky Way have at least one planet. Why the need for so many planets when only earth is needed? But that's the way God has designed the universe, things have a way of working out well using the "law of large numbers". An oak tree may drop 10,000 acorns but very few germinate, but oak trees survive well. This is the "Way of God."
The Bible teaches us to have a similar method: "Sow your seed in
the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not
know which will succeed, whether this or that" Eccl 11:6.
But this is not the end of the story; we have another avenue open to us. "Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray," says James in the Bible.
God who said, "Let there be light" can step into the affairs of the universe that he created if he is so inclined. He can issue a command anytime he pleases. And he may be pleased to issue a command because you have called out to him. God's word is powerful - Christ, who is called "The Word" was asleep in a boat when a furious squall rose up. The disciples woke Jesus and let him know they were all in peril. Jesus said, "Quiet! Be still." The sea became calm. Then "terrified" the disciples "asked each other, 'Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!'"
He is the Living Word, who can issue commands and have them happen. And that is why we pray.
He hears our cries. When the Lord was walking along with Abraham he decided to let Abraham know the reasons for his visit. "Then the LORD said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know." We see that the people who had been abused, robbed and cheated in Sodom and Gomorrah had cried out to God and their cries had reached his ears, so he came down to test the people of Sodom and Gomorrah and most people know the rest of the story and what happened to those towns. But the process started by people's cries to the Most High judge in the universe.
"In my distress", said David, "I called to the LORD;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears" (Psalm 18:6).
Prayer is powerful, when we appeal to God let us not take it lightly, he speaks and it happens. "For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm" (Ps 33:9). And Jeremiah informs us, "Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?"
"For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any
double-edged sword" (Heb 4:12).
So, we know that when we pray, we have a resource that is powerful and effective.