The village of Dooagh on Achill Island has a new beach. The story of the reappearing Irish beach recently hit the headlines, when the waves deposited hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sand over a ten day period on what was a very rocky shoreline, recreating the village’s beautiful, 300m long, sandy beach. The beach had been missing since 1984, when a powerful storm washed it away. Tourist numbers declined as a result and three of the area’s four hotels closed, but this month the village has experienced gridlock from cars and campervans and people coming from all over Ireland and the UK to see the new beach.
This is not the first time that the beach has come and gone, or should that be gone and come? It was washed away before in the 1890s, but had returned by the 1920’s when currachs were launched from the sands. How long it will stay this time is unknown. The locals can only watch and hope.
Some feel that same uncertainty when it comes to prayer. They pray, but hold out little hope for an answer. Others pray, and feel cheated when the answer fails to appear. “How long, O Lord?” is a frequent lament from the ancients, recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures. So what’s the point of prayer, and indeed what’s the point of this website, if that’s the case?
First of all, prayer brings us close to our Creator. It makes us aware that some of our needs can only be met from outside of ourselves. I once knew a nurse, who worked in a cancer hospital. She used to challenge me saying, “How can there be a God when I see such suffering around me every day?” Then she herself needed hospital treatment at a different hospital. What a difference when she came home! She told me that now she knew there was a God, because He had been with her to comfort and support her during her stay. Secondly as we pray, we do begin to see some answers to our prayers. Someone once said that the more they pray, the more coincidences happen. Try it for yourself and see.
However, answers to prayer don’t always come; at least not in the form we are expecting. How, or if, our prayers are answered can be summed up in three words: Yes, No and Wait. We have a loving Creator, who, despite the difficulties of this world, always wants the best for us. Sometimes His reply to our prayer is “Yes”, and we see our prayer answered relatively quickly. At other times He knows that what we requested won’t do us any good. So He helps us by not giving us what we asked for. On other occasions the answer is “Wait”; probably the same answer you would give to your 8 year old son or daughter, who wanted to learn to ride a motorbike or rent an apartment of their own.
Even so, we are encouraged to pray according to God’s will and not give up, believing that our prayer has been heard.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Philippians 4:6 (NLT)