Again, only of interest for those who wish to pray...
This month, our prayer is: Thy Will Be Done!
For Christmas, I was given a book about Spindrift, an organization that did scientific experiments into the efficacy of prayer from the 70s to the 90s. Nowadays, one sees research into prayer all the time. My church magazine often reports on such experiments, and – with the exception of Duke Universities 2006 experiment – prayer always comes out on top!
But back in the 70s, such experiments were unheard of! The founder of Spindrift began them because he noticed that the growing faith in the scientific world view seemed to be eroding faith in prayer. He thought if science was shown to support rather than undercut prayer, faith would be strengthened.
Apparently, back then, no one else agreed. Both the founder and all those – people of many sects and religions – who volunteered for Spindrift met hostile reactions from the religious and scientific communities alike. The very same kind of work that is accepted openly now was met with hostility back then.
Nonetheless, Spindrifts’ experiments discovered something fascinating!
Spindrift experiments involved praying for plants. They would take bins of sprouts, give them too much salt or not enough water and have volunteers pray for some bins and not others. Time after time, the prayed for bins did better than the control group by a scientifically significant amount…but that’s not the fascinating part.
(I should make it clear, not every volunteer got a result every time. They did these experiments over and over. The results were the overall cumulative outcome.)
Spindrift discovered that there were two kinds of prayer: prayer of desire and holy prayer also called ‘thy will be done’ prayer. They discovered that prayer of desire produced an effect, but not always the right effect. They even had experiments set up to test for this. They would set up a problem where the volunteer thought the problem was X (say not enough water) when it was really Y (too much salt or something else.) Prayers that asked for more water for the plants did not necessarily help the plants.
Just to make this absolutely clear: these prayers got results but the result were not always good!
At the very same time, they would have another bin filled with the same plants and the same problem. Only here, they asked their volunteers just to pray ‘thy will be done.’ To love the plants and turn them over to God.
These plants thrived. No matter what the problem was – whether the volunteers knew the problem or not – the plants did better.
What is more, Spindrift found that even if the volunteer knew the problem and the prayer of desire was for the correct need, the ‘thy will be done’ batches still flourished even more than the prayer of desire batches.
What does all this mean for us? It means that “Father, not my will but thy will be done,” is essential to prayer, if what we want is true happiness! This does not mean that we should not pray for wisdom or harmony and other spiritual qualities…any quality that is clearly part of the will of God is part of having His will done. But it does mean that we should be hesitant to ask for a specific outcome: a job we want, a change in our situation or body.
Some times we are reluctant to pray this way, because we do not yet trust God – we fear His will may not be good. When these false fears arise, we can remember that the Bible tells us: God is Love. This means we are asking for Love’s will to be done. Surely, we can trust Love not to harm us or bring about strife! (though sometimes we don’t recognize a blessing right away when it comes.)
So this month, let’s pray “Thy will be done!” For us, for our neighbors, for our enemies, for the whole world, for God’s whole universe. Let Thy Will Be Done!
Related Bible quotes:
“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31)
“I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” (Psalms 40:8)
“Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10_
“Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42)
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” ( James 1:17)
“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:16)