In what way does God answer prayer?

I received the following email from a Resurrection attender this week. I have included my response below and some additional thoughts. It has been edited for anonymity

Email Received:
A friend of mine has a perspective on prayer that falls under what the internet refers to as Prosperity Gospel. She repeatedly says, “If I pray hard enough, God will make it happen.” Interestingly, her latest comment relates to her pregnancy where she says she is praying hard (and is fully convinced) that God will grant her a little girl. I tend to disagree with this perspective because it makes it about the person and not God. God answers prayers, but for his purposes not ours. We will always get a yes, no, maybe later type of answer.

Any thoughts?

My Response:
In response to the “If I pray hard enough, God will make it happen.” I do not think that prayer will direct the gender of an unborn child. I agree with the types of responses that you suggest to prayer. This question also touches a bit on open theology – How and in what way does God respond to prayers? How does prayer make a difference? These are questions that I continue to think about.

What do you think, dear reader?

Speedlinking – April 2, 2008

Good News for All

Last week I posted on Christianity and Other Religions and included my thoughts about how to best respond to someone of another faith. I want to follow up on some of the conversation that I have had via the comments and emails on my assertion that it is more important to share the good news of Christ with non and nominally religious persons rather than persons of other religions.

I have received some excellent critiques that it is the responsibility of all Christians to share the good news with others – regardless of whether they adhere to a particular faith tradition. I agree. I do think that it is important to tell the story of Jesus to all persons in a way that tells of life transformation and gives the opportunity and calls for a response.

I did not intend to assert that Christians should not share their faith with those of other religions. I do believe that this is important. In regard to a relationship with Christ I do not make a distinction between someone who is non-religious and someone with who is faithful to another religion. In the collective, it is important to share the good news with all.

I would like to stay with my original assertion that given the choice of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with an individual of faith and with someone without any faith I believe that I would pursue the relationship with the person without faith. However, I recognize the validity of the counterpoint that someone with some sort of faith structure may have a familiarity with shaping her or his life around a life of faith and thus may be more willing to shift

As you can likely tell, I am still working this out and have appreciated the comments which help sharpen my thoughts. So here is a question about which I am not clear – Which of the following do you think would be someone that would be more willing to respond to the good news of Jesus Christ?

  • A person who faithfully practices a faith tradition other than Christianity?
  • Or

  • A person who does not practice any religion?

I am clear that it is important for Christians to share their faith with each of these groups. What do you think?