Bahai News -- Savannah Morning News - Ask, and you shall receive? Local News Web posted Thursday, May 1, 2003

Ask, and you shall receive?

On this National Day of Prayer, local believers discuss whether prayers should include requests for specific outcomes.

By Ann Stifter

It's OK to ask God for something to happen, many local worshipers believe.

After all, they say, biblical characters did; it's part of natural conversations with God.

Today, on the National Day of Prayer, believers share their similar thoughts about seeking specific outcomes when praying.

Michael O'Neal, a member of the Baha'i Faith, describes prayer as a constant conversation with God, which shouldn't be limited.

"Sometimes my spirit wants to ask for something specific. And, knowing God loves (me), I don't hesitate at all," he said.

"But you should ask knowing that God knows best. God's view of things is so much greater and grander than ours."

Yet, O'Neal believes a more powerful prayer is one that says how much faithful love and appreciate God and want to do God's will.

Because biblical characters prayed for specific outcomes and because petitions are part of church tradition, it's permitted to ask for particular results, said the Rev. Jenny Jackson-Adams, senior pastor of Richmond Hill United Methodist Church.

God seeks prayer and wants participation, she said.

But outcomes are up to him.

"We only see part of the picture and God sees the whole picture," Jackson-Adams said. "You could be praying for a pony, when God's planning to give you a jet airplane. We leave the bottom line with God and understand he always wishes good for us."

Murray Silver, a Savannah Buddhist, recently sought a lama's (teacher) help intervening in his mother's illness.

He's not above asking for specific results and says he wouldn't do it if it didn't work.

"In the Buddhist (tradition), there are different deities you can address these (requests) to, for health or prosperity or enlightenment," he said.

Maajid F. Ali, the imam (religious leader) of Savannah's Muslims at the mid-town mosque, said that, at the end of each of the daily five prayers, he prays for family; for Muslims; for non-Muslims, like his mother; and for humanity.

"It helps the person," Ali said. "Muslims believe God knows what we need before we express those needs, but by articulating it, it benefits us. It shows our humility before God and our dependence upon God."

Members of First Hispanic Baptist Church of Savannah have been praying hard for something particular. Their own building.

"(God) says you don't have because you don't ask for," said the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, the congregation's pastor.

"And sometimes you don't have because you ask in the wrong way, to satisfy your desires. And we need to ask for God's will. He's interested in everything that happens to us. Even though he knows everything will happen, he wants us to be part of everything and the Bible says to ask."

©Copyright 2003, Savannah Morning News (GA, USA)

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