Living in Haiti, I have seen many social media posts lately that talk about the prayers of GOD’s people changing the path of Hurricane Irma away from our small country. The suggestion of these posts is that because of all of the people in Haiti who were praying, Hurricane Irma, although it was headed directly for Haiti, turned and spared us instead. So my question is this…
Did our prayers change the direction of a hurricane?
At this point, I could definitely give a short one-word answer (either yes or no) but if you have been reading this blog for very long you know that I would rather use 100 words when 10 would suffice. So prior to answering the question, I want to look at some of the ramifications of the question.
- If the prayers of the people of Haiti turned the hurricane, then did followers of Christ in Puerto Rico or Cuba not pray hard enough?
- Did we (those of us in Haiti) not pray hard enough when Matthew came through?
- If our prayers can make it turn, why could they not make it go away?
There are many more questions and thoughts that go through our head at a time like this. One of them, for many people who do not know Jesus as their Savior, is what type of GOD would do this type of thing in the first place? That is a valid question too for people who do not know GOD and who are not blessed with a relationship with Him, and I would urge you to click here to read my thoughts about this. I also understand that many people, when posting things like “our prayers worked,” are not making a theological statement nor have they thought through many of the questions that this can bring about. Really, most of the people who post things like this are posting out of joy and they are just thanking GOD that He did not bring a new disaster on this island. Nonetheless, it is an important question to ponder and it helps us to understand more fully our relationship with GOD.
So here is my answer to this question to the best of my ability, “Did our prayers change Irma’s course?” The truth is that I have no idea. Maybe GOD was giving Haiti a break from the storm and the faith-filled prayers of His people here helped to make it happen. Maybe if nobody here had prayed Haiti would have been devastated by a new natural disaster. Maybe it didn’t matter how much people prayed about this storm because it was going to go that way regardless. Since I am not GOD, and His thoughts are so much higher than mine and His ways are so much higher than mine, I could not possibly know.
What I do know is that if we think in these terms, then we are missing the point!
At what point did our prayers become more about results than a Relationship? Did it happen with the Prayer of Jabez, the “name it and claim it” nonsense, or with the onslaught of a prosperity gospel that is not even close to the real Gospel for which Jesus bled. If you listen to certain pastors and church leaders, you may firmly believe that if you ask GOD to bless you financially and you are really serious about it, then you will be a millionaire soon. But then what happens when you’re not? If you live in a place like Haiti where a hurricane can cause damage and loss of life like Americans cannot imagine and someone tells you that you can pray a hurricane away…what happens when it comes anyway? What happens when you firmly believe that your prayers are going to “work” and then they don’t? Does it change our relationship with GOD, do we think less of Him, or even worse do we pin our belief on whether or not He does what we think He should do?
I have no idea if the prayers of GOD’s people in Haiti helped keep the Irma away from us (I kind of think probably not). But I do know that when we pray and share our heart with GOD including our fears, our hopes, our loves, and our struggles then we begin to accomplish what prayer is supposed to be about…A relationship with GOD. Do you remember one of Jesus’ most crucial prayers when He asks GOD to “Take this cup.” He is asking His Father to not make Him go through what He is about to endure on the cross. Spoiler alert: The prayer did not “work.” Jesus did endure the Cross in an act that could never truly be described or understood by anyone this side of seeing Jesus face-to-face. Our prayers are not about achieving a desired result, they are about knowing Jesus and growing in our relationship with GOD. After all, if GOD gave us everything we prayed really hard for, how do you think that would work out?