Since I mentioned prayer in a previous post I have been asked to say a couple of words on the subject. Well, why not? I pray every day, and I believe in its power, believe that it works.
But before we can discuss prayer, we must talk about faith. For if you don't have that, then all the praying in the world isn't going to do you any good. Prayer works for the believers, and it is not illogical to think so. God wants us to believe in Him.
What's that? God wants? One might legitimately ask, "How the hell do we know what God wants?" Good question. We don't, really, other than what it says in "that Book" which, for the sake of this discussion we will refrain from using or referring.
All we know is that we were created, much the same way as a parent creates a child. We want the best for our creations, and we can safely assume that God loves us and wants what's best for us. At least, that's the premise upon which my life is based.
But isn't saying that I "know" we were created a huge, unprovable, unsubstantiated assumption all by itself? Yup, you got me there. The Big Bang, the primordial soup, and humans evolving from the sea could have all "just happened" I suppose, with no intelligent design behind it. But my brain...my spirit...my very soul all argue against it. No, I don't see a big cosmic accident in all of "this." I see the hand of a very fine artist.
And it is with that inherent, conscious and subconscious knowledge that I go about leading my life.
We can choose to not believe in a Creator. We can choose to go through life thinking that we are completely on our own, that our current physical life is all there is, and that when we die that's it, we're done, end of story, sayonara. That's easy. Such a belief system takes very little thought and, in some ways make perfect sense. We're here for a while, then we're not anymore.
But we believers see God's presence in our lives. We feel His presence, and experience the joy that it brings. When you know that there is a God, and you know that He wants the best for you...and will help you if you ask Him, then that faith gives you hope. And without hope, our very existence is lonely and depressing. Without hope, all you have is the sad resignation and realization that things are out of your control and "stuff" will just happen the way it happens, too bad Charley.
I like Wikipedia's definition of hope, which is simply "...a belief that a better or positive outcome is possible even when there is evidence to the contrary."
Hope is what gets me through each day!
Truly, can there be hope without faith? That's rhetorical; I do not think so.
I've wrestled with my faith for a long, long time. Being brought up in the Catholic church, we are told to believe in God. And a lot of us probably did without question because our parents told us to, and why would they lie? But Christians tend to humanize God. They ascribe to Him certain human characteristics, and often pretend that He has dictated His desires and rules for us in a very clear way. At some point any thinking person would have to say, "Uhh, a lot of this is just a bunch of bullshit." Because it is, let's be honest.
When you start to question things, it can take you down some dangerous roads. For a while I discarded everything that I'd been taught - completely deconstructed my faith. Starting from zero, I rebuilt my beliefs one by one. With an open mind I asked myself, "What do I really believe?"
And as much as I would have like to believe that there is no God, no Creator, nothing more to this life than just Bob, I could not get there. Everywhere I looked, I saw God's handiwork, His presence. I'm a big skeptic...a huge skeptic! But I found that even I am just not a big enough skeptic or hardened cynic to presume that this universe just sort of, you know, happened. No. It was created, of that I have no doubt. Moreover, it was created specifically for us. Pompous? Perhaps. You are free to believe anything you want. That's the fascinating thing about being a human.
Okay, so starting with a belief in a Creator (whom for the sake of convenience I call "God"), what else is there to believe? Well, if I was created, then it was for some purpose. This has so far not been revealed to me, or perhaps I'm unable to perceive it at this point. Maybe some day I'll find out - maybe not. And if I was indeed created, then I am loved - by both my natural parents, and also by the Creator of my spirit and soul. That right there is some powerful stuff!
I know for a fact that my natural parents have always wanted what's best for me. If I ever went to them with a sincere request, they would move heaven and earth (oops!) to get it, for that is what parents do. Mine demonstrated this time and again. Why should I not expect the same from my spiritual Father?
Televangelist Joel Osteen preaches over and over that God wants what's best for us. I mean, he harps on it like a broken record. He says that all we have to do is believe and ask, and God will provide it. It's a simple message, really, but one that we sometimes forget. Believe and ask. Believe and ask.
I know my parents love me. I know that God loves me. They all want what's best for me. It is with this comforting knowledge and faith that I go through life with hope and optimism.