Q: Why doesn't God intervene, answer our prayers, work a miracle? PDF Print E-mail
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If you've prayed (the word means "asked") for things, you know that God sometimes gives you what you asked - but not always! Why? How can a loving God let his beloved children suffer, and just do nothing?

One friend (a reverend) insists that God CAN'T intervene - because if He can watch some child die in front of the horrified family and do nothing, He's a bastard! It's a possible answer, but it's a bit difficult to square with an omnipotent Creator? And God certainly answers prayer on some occasions.

We can see SOME of the reasons God doesn't always intervene. Let's consider some actual people.

P, a medical student had difficulties in his personal life, got behind with his work, and prayed desperately that he would pass the final exams - he wouldn't be able to afford to stay an extra year to retake them. He failed. Why didn't God help him?

E, a drug-addict had her baby removed to "a place of safety" for 6 months. When the period ended, the baby would either be returned to her or taken away for ever. She and her family prayed desperately - and she lost. She will never see that baby again. Why? How could God be so cruel?

M, a faithful, upright Christian man, was accused of raping a 13-year-old girl decades ago on a church picnic. There was absolutely no evidence (except her testimony), her recollections didn't fit the facts, she was in treatment and he was healthy, and the whole church turned up in the courtroom and prayed desperately for him. He lost the case, was convicted, and got a long jail sentence. What was God thinking of?

R was a hard-working, loving father and grandfather who developed cancer when he retired. Then he got terribly ill with complications and was taken to hospital. His family kept watch, prayed faithfully ... and he died!  Was their faith 'not great enough'?

S was a kind, sensitive, gay man who died painfully of AIDS. He was not religious, but his mother prayed repeatedly for him - in vain. Why would a loving God punish people so nastily?

Why didn't God intervene and stop all this? Why didn't He answer the prayers?

 

 

Suppose God miraculously helps P pass his exams? He'll be a doctor, but without enough knowledge - perpetually making mistakes, harming his patients and regretting it. Is that REALLY what P wants? He's actually praying for the wrong thing! ... Sometimes God knows what's best for us.

Suppose E got her baby back, while still using crack. Disastrous, eh? Maybe, just maybe, losing her baby will stop her in her tracks, and lead to a new life? (And probably, later, a new baby?) ... Sometimes we aren't ready to receive what we pray for - we have work to do first.

M and his wife were devastated at the judge's verdict, and so were the church members. What was God doing? Looking back, we can now see God's amazing plan. M's lawyer appealed the case. The Appeal Court overthrew the verdict, AND changed the law in 2 particulars, making it almost impossible for innocent men to be convicted with no evidence (other than one accuser) and no supporting records. M never went to jail. Sure, he had a very alarming experience - but it has saved innocent men from injustice ever since.

R may have had a joyful release?  He may be with God, free from drip-tubes and chemotherapy, from pain and bedpans, and much better off?  We always regard death as a terrible disaster - and it is for us!  We won't see R any more, and will miss him.  But maybe our prayers are sometimes a bit selfish?

We don't believe that God deliberately punishes people like S (or their mothers). Innocent heterosexual people die of AIDS too. It's not a punishment. It can be a RESULT of sexual behaviour - but that's our doing, not God's.

But let's be honest - there are other times when we can see no sense in the suffering. Why does God allow any of it?

Probably this is beyond our human comprehension. Jesus's disciples once asked him "Teacher, who sinned that this man was born blind? Him or his parents?" (Misfortune was generally seen as punishment from God.) Jesus's answer is very different from our world-view: "So that I might come along and heal him, and display the power of God to you".

Maybe if God ALWAYS prevented suffering, it would simply become "natural law", and we would not be able to see God work at all?

The GodOrNot team.

 



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Comments   

 
+3 # Guest 2009-12-30 11:49
I hate answers that demean the real suffering of whoever BUT the fact that anything can happen, even bad things, testifies to our freedom, freewill, we are not robots and with freedom comes good and bad results. I think it is proverbs where it says that chance and circumstan ce can happen to us all. God is not a coke machine in the sky, prayer in, success out
Its open universe with our having a real impact. One example may be the royal families of old marring within there own blood line out of pride, this resulted in a messed up gene pool with the results of giving birth to babies with various disabiliti es for generation s to come.
pride=sin=bad results?
Hope that makes sense for you...
Dave
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0 # Guest 2009-12-30 23:16
Yes! Tony
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+2 # Guest 2009-12-31 23:41
Anyone who is truly asking the question with any degree of seriousnes s must be willing to listen to answers with a degree of seriousnes s, and seriousnes s requires one to see beyond themselves and yearn to grasp the 'big picture.' And when one searches the 'big picture' one must get beyond selfish visions of a gainful destiny and look for reality.

and the reality is this - life sucks and always will. It is up to you to find the good parts... and see the blessings where they lay, and seek the ones that are hidden.

and even then we don't get to know everything ... that's part of the plan.

sorry... no one promised anyone any rose gardens... just a garden of sorts...
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+1 # Guest 2010-01-02 22:24
Must ask "what is prayer?"

Prayer is not a shopping list to check off. Prayer is a source of comfort, time to be silent, time to grieve, rant, vent... Prayer is not a means of getting what you want. It is a means of becoming closer to God.

Must also ask "who is God?"

God is love. And for God to be love means that he had to risk his own sovereignt y in order that we might freely choose to love Him. Our choice is not an illusion - it is a real choice. Our relationsh ip with Him is authentic - not forced. So, we have real freedom to choose good or evil. And when bad things happen, it's not that God caused them. God weeps. He mourns. He is saddened by the brokenness around us. When we don't get our way, it's not because God allowed / didn't allow it. God is there with us offering a deeper relationsh ip with Him.

My 2 cents... (Ran out of symbols allowed)
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+1 # Guest 2010-01-06 08:49
There is a view that the ruler of this world is Satan (Prince of the World?) God gave us sovereignt y and we promptly handed it to the Devil and that's why we got kicked out of Eden. So Satan's in charge and he hands out the bad stuff.
But through Jesus' we are reconciled - we CAN live in Eden again - or the Kingdom of God if you like. We can walk and talk with God again and we can now Command things to happen. Don't pray to God to move the mountain - COMMAND the mountain to move. Don't ask God to do do it - do it yourself by Royal Command. After all, you're a brother or sister of the King.
That's what some people think, anyway.
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0 # Guest 2010-04-03 15:22
Jerry
mailed-by
patriot.websitewelcome.com
Fri, Apr 2, 2010 at 11:41 PM

Why didn't god tell the city planners of Port-au-Pr ince that they were building the city on a faultline? Shouldn't she at least have told them to use concrete?
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0 # Guest 2010-05-03 09:24
Well, it seems that once you have messed up, you have messed up and there is no helping hand. God seems to demand perfection before help arrives and well, to get to that place of perfection I need a helping hand. Catch 22, but it certainly doesn't enhance my feeling of faith. So, for the first time in my life I am questionin g whether God exists at all.
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0 # Guest 2010-05-03 21:00
Dear Dominique,

Thank you for your post.

Whatever we do, however badly we mess up, God is still there!

He wants us to keep hold of His hand, ask for forgivenes s, trust Him to sort the mess out, and listen for His advice (response to our prayers, advice from friends and churchmemb ers, verses that leap out at us from the Bible ...).

Do you not think He will offer help for you?

Paul says that NOTHING, however big or bad, can separate us from the love of Jesus. Nothing.

Will pray for you, Tony
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-2 # Guest 2011-01-02 21:02
"Jerry" asks why God didn't tell the planners of Port-au-Pr ince that they were building on a fault line?

He did. The position of the fault line has been known for about a century. So has the fact that New Orleans is a flood plain.

Men went ahead and made a profit building, not caring about the future. Surprised?
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-1 # Guest 2011-01-19 12:48
God is the ruler of this world.

There view that satan is the ruler of this world. This opinion has been around and it keeps popping to my notice from time to time. About a year ago Brother Richard Stubbs took issue with this idea.

I too do not agree with the assumption that satan is the ruler of this world.

God is the ruler of this world. God is the creator and all else the created. Satan is a creature turned bad and decided to spoil everything . But God is still in charge.

In Guyana we have a saying that those with real power will give the pretenders "rope to hang themselves."

God has real power but he has given satan rope to hang himself. A good example is the defeat satan suffered at the hands of Jesus as evidenced in the temptation and resurrecti on narratives of Jesus's biography.

Today the Church of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit keeps the kingdom of God alive among us. at the same time

Regardless of our infirmitie s God is in charge of our lives. We are sustained by the Holy Spirit.

Satan is the evil one who is here to steal, kill and destroy. I admit satan has great influence in the way our societies are administer ed [principal ities]. Satan has great influence as the power of darkness. but his influence is subordinat ed to kingship of God.

God is the ruler of this world not satan
Most of us will fall victim to satan from time to time either in thought, word or deed. But God who is merciful rescues us from satans clutches thus displaying who is really in charge.

I agree with Brother Richard Stubbs that as christians empowered by God we must become proactive in reflecting God's will on earth.

yours in Christ
kampta karran
Guyana
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-1 # Guest 2011-01-20 22:13
The vast majority of what Brother Karran says is undeniable . And the Christian system works whether you agree that Satan is the 'Prince of this World' or not; but it IS scriptural ...

Point is, God created mankind. He gave authority to mankind to populate and subdue it - and mankind broke the covenant by disobeying God's Golden Rule... we wanted to be like God. Thus we passed Satan the authority to screw things up on Earth. But if we're in God's Kingdom (Christian s) we have the authority to over-rule Satan.

Remember that Jesus didn't invite us to ask Him to move the mountain - He told us to order it. He gave back to us, the members of His Kingdom, the Authority which God gave Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Christians are now in that same old G of E relationsh ip with God but we still live in a fallen world....

Richard Stubbs
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-3 # Guest 2011-01-21 10:21
http://jesusneverexisted.com/
Just check it out. Open your mind.
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-1 # Guest 2011-01-22 15:43
Dear brother Richard Stubbs kindly help me with evidence from the Bible which shows that satan is the ruler of this world. many thanks
kampta
Guyana
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-2 # Guest 2011-01-23 19:03
Now we know the extent of ingnorance that some people will intentiona lly sink to in order to convince themselves that they are not subject to God's rule! The notion that Jesus never existed at all is a desperate reach - most people won't even attempt that any more, and the most ardent atheists won't try and convince anyone that Jesus was not an actual historic figure.
I have heard it said that there is more evidence for the existence of Jesus than there is for Julius Caesar! I don't know whether Julius Caesar did in fact exist. I've never seen any actual evidence for his existence!
The Bible itself provides multiple eye witness accounts from men who have no ulterior motive and did not benefit in any way from telling people the truth about Jesus. The fact that these historical accounts were compiled into one book, the Bible, is not a reason to discount their accuracy, sincerity or truth. Open your eyes.
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-2 # Guest 2011-01-23 19:09
Jesus himself called Satan, "The Prince of This World."
That aside, God is the Lord Of All Creation. He answers prayer. He can do anything. He is able to intervene in the lives of people. He can rearrange flesh, remove sickness and disease. So whether we agree or disagree that Satan has dominion in the earth, God can still act in a sovereign and miraculous way. He does it all the time!

Then there's this:
Quoting Jerry:
Jerry

Why didn't god tell the city planners of Port-au-Prince that they were building the city on a faultline? Shouldn't she at least have told them to use concrete?

If they were asking 'her' they were asking the wrong god. I suspect they didn't ask Him.
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-1 # Guest 2011-01-24 10:00
"You Must Be Foolin", you seem to be the one behind the times. Modern scholarly analysis has determined that it is very unlikely ANY of the authors of the New Testament were eye witnesses.
Was the author an eyewitness of the events of Jesus life?

Tradition Modern
Matthew Yes No
Mark Yes Possible
Luke No No
John Yes Possible
Acts No No
Paul's Epistles (14) No No
James Yes Unlikely
1 Peter Yes Unlikely
2 Peter Yes No
1 John Yes Unlikely
2 John Yes No
3 John Yes No
Jude Yes No
Revelation Yes No

Total Yes 11 0

Total Questioned 0 5

Total No 16 22

Note: Gospels and Acts may draw second hand from unknown
eyewitness accounts in specific cases.
Source:
[****].winternet.com/~swezeyt/bible/swezauth.htm
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-1 # Guest 2011-01-24 10:02
Sorry about the formatting .. :oops: didn't work out too well. Visit [****].win ternet.com /~swezeyt/ bible/swez auth.htm for an easier look.

By the way, I applaud the moderator of this site for allowing free and open debate on this subject. Kudos.
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-1 # Guest 2011-05-12 15:59
Comment #16 quotes Thomas Swezey, a computer software developer. But I can't find any evidence to back up his claims?

Some evidence is provided at
[****].pleaseconvinceme.com/index/Are_There_Early_Eyewitness_Accounts_of_Jesus
and suggests that the gospels were contempora ry, so likely to be eye-witnes s accounts.

Luke does in fact claim to be an eye-witnes s account of Paul (not Jesus) - in Acts he says at times "... WE arrived at ..."

Tony
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+1 # Guest 2011-08-21 21:31
Hello, on your webpage, you write:
But God is not dead. He still cares!
I wonder. Why do you refer to God as HE. How do you know that God is male?

I've always been wondering why people make this implicit assumption which, logically, should anger God. God is genderless .

Very best wishes,
Takis
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0 # Guest 2011-09-11 14:45
You're right, Takis - God is not a human being, so it is misleading to refer to God as "him" or "her".

But the Bible tells us that we are made in His image - which means (from our point of view) that He has some human attributes ! So if we think of Him as a human being, we are not too far off the truth.

Indeed, C.S.Lewis argues that "a person" is the CLOSEST we can get to imagining God. If we try to imagine him as an "infinite force" or a "First Cause", we are actually degrading our image of Him. He has more than the capacities of a human being, not less.

The Bible also tells us that our relationsh ip to God is similar to the relation between a human father and his children. This means, for most of us, that calling Him "Father" is the nearest we can come to the truth. So expression s like "Father/Mo ther God" are not as accurate.

Children benefit from a mother and a father in different ways. According to the Bible, the way God looks after us is more like a father (disciplin e, long-term vision, preparatio n, training) than a mother (nourishme nt, comfort, sympathy, encouragem ent) ... although clearly He has some of those too!
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+1 # stu 2012-10-19 14:13
if god can't intervene to stop bad things happening, how come he can intervene and heal people?
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0 # Guest 2013-02-07 09:42
I asked the lord to protect me from all evil before i slept, next thing you know im having physical dream of a fallen one torturing me.. next to it a human, my eyes clearly saw and heard, i felt but why god didnt help me from that evil that caused harm
wasnt my faith bigger or small as a grain of a mustard seed? or is it because i wasnt ready for what i asked for? now that i feel like tearing god or the lord apart limb from limb with my tomahawk ,for believing his words and having faith,,,no w i lost my faith in him his words and existence, ,,for not sheltering me from that evil situation, now all i feel is anger and deception and no longer to forgive the lord for what hes let occur.
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0 # guest 2013-02-20 03:44
Stu says "if god can't intervene to stop bad things happening, how come he can intervene and heal people?"

It's the vital question. God HAS intervened and healed people - in the Bible, and in my own family - but often He doesn't!

Why does He often choose not to?
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-1 # JCS 2013-05-12 18:27
Using this logic, if parents pray over their dying newborn, and it dies, it's because they weren't meant to have the kid. Or perhaps that kid would grow up to be the next Hitler. Or maybe God just doesn't like them. In any case, their dead baby is a good thing because God has His reasons, nevermind what they are.
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I personally think it's because Jesus is a pedophile with ... [truncated by Moderator because obscene AND irrelevant ]
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0 # David 2013-05-30 07:31
Prayer always works in a provable way at www.prayer-o-matic.com
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-1 # P. 2013-06-13 20:43
my 26 yr. old son took his life The night it happened Oct. 1st his girl friend called me and told me he was talking about ending his life he had his gun with him. I started praying that God would help him and his will be done. My son was saved he had just broke up with his girl friend he had two children with. I would like to know didn't God try to intervene in this I love him so much and will miss him the rest of my life.
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-1 # Magnate 2013-06-14 06:40
Quoting P.:
my 26 yr. old son took his life The night it happened Oct. 1st his girl friend called me and told me he was talking about ending his life he had his gun with him. I started praying that God would help him and his will be done. My son was saved he had just broke up with his girl friend he had two children with. I would like to know didn't God try to intervene in this I love him so much and will miss him the rest of my life.

I'm so sorry for your loss. But your son is saved! He is with Jesus now! Perhaps God didn't try to intervene because He loved your son and wanted him to be happy in heaven rather than miserable on earth? (A bit like the person R in the article, maybe.)
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+1 # Nikki 2013-10-06 18:57
What about those who are dying from starvation and children having to live with terrible diseases that they never asked or have anything to do to have them? Especially kids who only want a chance at life and some die so early, and for what? Human greed and corruption I get, but why would a God sit there and let it happen and the victims end up paying the price? If I don't get an answer that does any type of justice then I'm saying bye to God all together.
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+1 # TC 2013-10-20 13:46
Nikki says "What about ... children having to live with terrible diseases that they never asked (for) ... why would a God sit there and let it happen and the victims end up paying the price? If I don't get an answer that does any type of justice then I'm saying bye to God all together.

Wait! If there's no God, does the injustice and suffering make any more sense?
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+1 # Ann 2013-11-06 12:08
My childhood was horrific with years of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. At the same time we were a church going believing family. I used to sit and cry by my bedroom window at night for God to 'save me, help me.' My Christian therapist said this was false hope in a false God. I don't get it...
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+1 # tim 2013-11-17 00:06
Very nice written article, but towards the end I feel as if those are excuses trying to prove why "god" doesn't intervene. If you studied hard and prayed then passed the test then would this be the work of "god"? Of course not, our future is what WE make of it and is silly to have faith in things we will never know anything about.
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+1 # JJ 2013-11-19 18:46
When I was a young child going to church, I thought what a great life I would have knowing God as my copilot. Now that I am an old person, I feel the gut wrenching pain that I was the victim of the big religion scam. How utterly worthless prayer was in saving the ill, or providing any guidance. How do I salvage the meager years left of my life.

Glib made-up answers made up by those employed by religion (priests, ministers, etc.) cannot come close to easing the pain.

http://godisimaginary.com

...................

MODERATOR'S NOTE: If you are a Christian, please take a look at the above website. ... Why?

You are meant to “Be always ready to give an account of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). This website is a very good summary of the arguments for atheism, very well presented (better than Dawkins). You need to practise answering them! Imagine you're talking to a friend who is genuinely confused, not just argumentat ive. Consider how you could actually help them – where would you start? Come back here and post if you're puzzled or confused.

#1 is the most difficult (same argument is repeated in 7,9,10,11,12,15,31,32,34,41,48,50)

WARNING: If you are not a Christian, by all means visit the above website, but please remember 3 things:
1) You are not reading science. Scientists do not pay for websites to promote their findings.
2) You are reading a sales pitch. The Prince of this world is just as keen to own your soul as God is.
3) You are talking to experts! They have thought about this much more than you have, and sound very convincing . Did you ever argue about diet with a vegan?!

Shop around before you buy ...
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-1 # aubrey 2013-12-20 17:39
JJ says:
"When I was a young child going to church, I thought what a great life I would have knowing God as my copilot. Now that I am an old person, I feel the gut wrenching pain that I was the victim of the big religion scam."

Can you tell us why you have the gut-wrench ing pain? And, how would you have escaped it, if you were not brought up religious?

From your note, it even sounds like:
(a) childhood included God and was happy
(b) adulthood excluded God and is awful.
But maybe I have misunderst ood?
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