Blanco County News
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Prayers and Percentages
Wednesday, September 3, 2008 • Posted September 2, 2008

When our children were in their teens, a high school senior friend (a daughter of a local pastor) was involved in a serious auto accident that threatened her ability to ever walk normally. Doctors predicted her chances to recover completely were only about one percent.

Undaunted by these precarious percentages, our youngest daughter gave this unforgettable response: “God can do a lot with one percent.”

What about this kind of faith?

Is it sensible to pray about situations that seem impossible or is the risk of loss of faith too great to pray about things that call for trust in God when answers to our prayers demand miracles?

Perhaps a better question is about what kind of praying pleases God.

In his book, “Getting Things From God,” Charles Blanchard, a former president of Wheaton College, wrote that there is not one record in the Bible of God rebuking praying people for asking too frequently or too largely, pointing out that the opposite has often been true. The problem, said Blanchard, has been that we’ve asked too little or didn’t persevere until answers to prayer arrived.

Bible writers agree.

James urged his readers to pray in faith, saying those who doubt will receive nothing from the Lord (James 1:6-7). Some commentator then came up with a catchy slogan that makes this Biblical advice easy to remember: “We can pray and believe and receive or we can pray and doubt and go without.”

Does this mean all believing prayers are answered?

Not always.

If not, why not?

After many years of wrestling with these questions, I have settled on the following: We can ask God for the most, exercising faith and expecting answers. At the same time, it is important to remember that we do not always know the will of God about everything that concerns us and that His will is always best.

On those occasions when it appears we have lost out on something good we thought was coming our way, let us thank God for his perfect will. The safety net of His sovereignty may have rescued us from a serious fall.

Here’s another certainty: answers to prayer are not determined by percentages based on God’s ability to deliver.

I’m reminded of this when I recall sitting on an outdoor graduation platform where I was to give the benediction and watching the flawless gate of a young woman who briskly stepped up to receive her diploma after being told there was only a one percent chance she would ever walk normally again. And as that scene repeatedly visits my memory, I give thanks for the wise words of my daughter that helped me graduate to greater faith: “God can do a lot with one percent.”

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