Prayer That “Fits” Current Science

weather clouds

In late November my daughter got married, and it was a wonderful experience. In the days leading up to the wedding, my wife was fervently praying for good weather. For several weeks before the wedding date, Chicago experienced unseasonal warmth and lots of sunshine. Forecasters, however, warned that “big changes” were coming, and the target date for those big changes turned out to be our daughter’s wedding day. Needless to say, my wife was not very pleased with God’s response to her prayers! Of course, this resulted in the two of us having some interesting conversations about prayer and its effectiveness and how/whether God responds to our prayers. In particular, we grappled with the notion of praying for God to intervene in the physical world, basically asking God to change the weather in our favor.

In the midst of all that, I came across an interesting article that talked about how science used to suggest that everything followed a strict “cause and effect” pattern, which meant that praying to God often meant asking God to suspend the laws of physics and break the natural laws that he put into place to steer the world. Today, however, science talks about the randomness of creation and chaos theory, which suggests that creation is unpredictable and that systems in the world can be very sensitive to change so that a small disturbance can cause a great reaction (such as the famous flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil setting off a tornado in Texas).

All of this to say that, with a proper understanding of science, we can pray for God to work within the parameters of the world he has created and not to suspend the laws of physics on our behalf, but to intervene into the chaos of creation and cause a shift. In other words, instead of thinking that the only way for God to answer our prayer for good weather on our daughter’s wedding day was to suspend the laws of physics and halt an oncoming weather system and keep temps in the 60s in late November, we can conclude that God did indeed intervene in response to our prayers by altering things just enough so that a huge weather system that was traveling from west to east veered just north, keeping Chicago out of the path of snow, and enabling the sun to peek out on the afternoon of our daughter’s wedding despite colder temps.

That’s an answer to a prayer!

Your thoughts about praying for God’s intervention?

About Joe Paprocki 2146 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

4 Comments on Prayer That “Fits” Current Science

  1. I have always struggled w/ praying for God to intervene physically (or medically) in this world. I have prayed for so many miracles that have not been answered accordingly and have been left accepting God’s will in hopes of understanding in the next life. But others have seemingly had their mundane (as in earthly) prayers answered, i.e. job promotions, ‘travel mercies’, houses sold, etc. Hard to grasp this one at times.. as we again pray for the miraculous recover of a young mother w/ 2 children.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Brad. I agree that it is very difficult to pray for miracles on a logical level. And yet, to NOT pray for them makes me feel that I am being callous. Sometimes I feel that praying for miracles is a way of remaining honest about my deepest desires. To pray for a miraculous recovery of a young mother with 2 children is an expression of your love for that mother and her 2 children as well as an expression of sensitivity and compassion. So, if anything, it makes us more human. Thanks again for sharing. Prayer is a mystery…we know it and engage in it but do not fully grasp it.

  2. My husband and I also had an event (our “120th” birthday party outdoors) that we thought we needed to pray and pray for good weather. Three days before the party, we got hit with a terrible storm and another one was predicted to arrive in the middle of our outdoor party. I asked my husband what we could do. He said,”Pray!” I told him, “God doesn’t care about our party weather, He wants us to figure it out ourselves.” After much discussion of renting a big tent, we finally did figure it out by calling the rain date and it turned out to be a beautiful day:)

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Kim. In some ways, it seems that we can’t help but to pray so as to remain honest to ourselves about our deepest desires. It seems inherently human to pray so I try not to analyze it TOO much!

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