Does God Answer Your Prayers?
“I HAVE never felt the sensation of having my prayers answered,” said a woman living in Hokkaido, Japan. In this regard she is not alone. Many people feel that their prayers are never answered. In fact, you may be wondering if God answers your prayers.
Millions address countless prayers to numberless deities. Why does it seem that so many prayers are not answered? To find out, let us first examine the kinds of prayers being offered.
What Do Some Pray For?
During the New Year’s season, two thirds of Japan’s population, or some 80 million people, pray in Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples. They give coins as offerings and pray for good fortune and family safety.
In January and February—just before the grueling entrance examinations—students flock to shrines such as one in Tokyo noted for its education god. They write their wishes on wooden prayer plaques and hang them on wooden bars on the grounds of the shrines. At least 100,000 of these plaques decorated the precincts of a well-known shrine in Tokyo during the 1990 examination season.
Many prayers involve health. At a shrine in Kawasaki, Japan, people pray for protection against AIDS. “The significance of praying against AIDS,” explained the shrine’s priest, “is that it will make people discreet in their behavior.” But is that all there is to prayer?
At another temple, an elderly woman prayed for “sudden death.” Why? Because she wanted to avoid suffering a prolonged illness and did not wish to become a burden to her family.
In one so-called Christian country, the captain of a football team prayed for his team’s victory and protection from injury. Catholics in Poland pray for their personal well-being and decorate their Madonna with jewelry when they believe that their prayers are heard. Many people flock to churches such as the famous Guadalupe in Mexico City, and Lourdes, France, begging for miraculous cures.
East or West, people offer prayers for many and varied personal reasons. Obviously, they want their prayers to be heard and answered. However, is it realistic to expect that all prayers will be favorably heard? What about your own prayers? Are they answered? In fact, does God answer prayers at all?