Candles, Cakes, and Prayers: Spoken but Not Heard

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Here’s Part 1 of the first half of our ‘Candles, Cakes and Prayers’ reflection series. The intro to the series is here!

When wishing on birthday candles it is clear to all, although perhaps not to the innocent child doing the wishing, that the wishes are falling on deaf ears.  Adults understand that although wishes are being made, no one is listening in, to set the wish granting process in motion.  Wishes are being made to candles atop a cake. The story ends there, without debate.  One of the reasons why some people relegate their prayer life to the same fate as those old birthday wishes is that the number of wishes made compared to the number of wishes fulfilled is lopsided at best in favor of silence. Many feel that this wishing with our eyes shut over newly lit birthday candles, or kneeling at the bedside, is nothing more than wishful superstition that has no place in the “real world.”  As we outgrew the birthday candle tradition, we soon realized that we possessed much more power to affect real change in our lives by our own effort. No need to place any hopes whatsoever in silly “childish superstition.”  These hopes were grounded in fantasy and to actually count on them was to set oneself up for certain disappointment.  We came to the realization that no one was listening; therefore, there was no need to do any more talking.

Many people have put such hopes in God, only to see their wishes left at the stage of simply a wish or a dream.  There are countless cases where people have prayed for a miracle, only to find that the answer was never revealed.  One such example was Jesus himself who, while desperately praying for deliverance from his suffering, heard nothing in return, leaving him feeling entirely “forsaken.”

When our trust in God is merely at the level of the “Genie in the Lamp,” or the magic of a candle wish, we find that such a “God-Genie” is ineffective.  This idea of God even sneaks in with those who truly feel as though they understand and believe in the “will of God,” and they can be likewise disappointed by the “failure” of God to respond.  This level of disappointment and lack of response brings many to the state of wishing to candles when they bring their hands together, kneel, and close their eyes.

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