Thinking Anew – Why prayer can make a difference

If you can accept your own value and importance, you will have nothing to fear from prayer

Madness has many forms. It is a word we use to describe anything or anyone delusional, irrational or challenging.

Tomorrow’s Gospel tells a tale of Jesus’s family arriving to bring him home. No different to us; they thought the carpenter had gone mad.

Religious behaviour can often be challenging. There are many things that believers do that defy common sense. Prayer is the most obvious of these. How can the chanting of one insignificant being in an infinite universe change anything?

The answer does not fit into a test tube but can still be observed.


Many a person has found courage and confidence in the knowledge that somebody else is praying for them.

In the aftermath of many successes and medical recoveries, people often thank others for their thoughts and prayers.

Prayer is not madness; it does make a difference. Sometimes we say things are mad because we fear them. The fear of change can be far greater than the fear of injury. Anybody who advocates change can expect to be viewed as mad. You are in good company if you do.

Even the nearest and dearest of Christ suspected the same of him. His principal madness was to encourage us to build a personal relationship with God through prayer. He invited us to stand back from begging God’s mercy and start asking for his parental forgiveness.

It was a very radical idea to a faith that made peace with God by slaughtering animals. It was an idea that inspired and motivated many great people since he lived.

Thankfully he did not go home to his workshop. He persisted with his madness and changed the world.

Building a personal relationship with God is challenging too. Some prefer other words for God and building a relationship with the Higher Power can be done in many ways.

For the Christian the model is familiar and intimate.

The idea that the creator of all that exists is remotely concerned with you is itself an arrogant madness. But if you can accept your own value and importance, you will have nothing to fear from prayer.

The insignificant being in an infinite universe can change everything.

Christ’s invitation to make reality user-friendly is still a challenge today.

We speak of our universe in a way that belittles us. We count distances and time in billions of years and quadrillions of kilometres. Not only do we stress our insignificance we also overawe ourselves with facts we cannot digest, imagine or understand. It is a goldmine for the promoters of subliminal irrelevance.

Engaging with the majesty of the Higher Power in words we know, images we identify and relationships we cherish was the madness Jesus taught.

It was radical in his day and is unscientific in ours. That creates a barrier that many minds cannot cross. Information only describes a part of our reality.

Knowing that the North Star is over400 light years away is interesting; finding your way home with it is practical, and, admiring its beauty is inspirational. Not realising that every one of those claims is equally true is a tragedy.

In Christianity we have always stressed the importance of every individual in a vast world.

When we speak of the resurrection of the body we can get bogged down in the informationalist images of what our resurrected bodies might look like (gym-toned?)

More simply it was nothing more than a claim that everybody is somebody. That somebody will always be somebody. It will never be somebody else and never be nobody. Nobody is irrelevant.