...If you are... I want you to know that I am grateful
by guestblogger BroKen
Dr. Dennis Kinlaw was president of Asbury College when I was there so many years ago. He was a professor of Biblical languages at Asbury Seminary before he was selected to lead the college. I remember him as a great teacher and preacher.
Dr. Kinlaw tells of sitting on an airplane next to a man who claimed to be an atheist but shared a remarkable story of how he, the atheist, came to believe in prayer.
He said, “I used to have vicious migraine headaches that I thought were going to drive me crazy, and medicine could not do anything for me. One day, I thought, Religious people pray. I didn’t know anything about religion, I didn’t even believe in God, but I thought it surely couldn’t hurt to try; so I prayed.
“I said, ‘Lord, I don’t know if You are or not, and if You are, I don’t know whether you can help me or not, and if You are and You can, I don’t know whether You would or not, but if You are, and if You could, and if You would take away these headaches, I would be very grateful.’ Do you know what? The headaches went away and I thought it was a very happy coincidence.
“Then I had a second thought. That is a cheap way out. What if God is, and what if He did? If I attribute my healing to chance, it would be extremely ungracious.
“So, I prayed again. “Lord, I don’t know whether You are or not, and I don’t know whether You did or not, but if You are and if You did, I want You to know that I am grateful.’
“Then I had another thought, There have been many good things that have happened in my life that I assumed were accidents. I wonder if those are blessings from God, too? And if they are, I have never even told Him thanks.”
So, he said, “I prayed again. ‘I don’t know whether you exist or not, and I don’t know whether You are responsible for the good things in my life, but if You had anything to do with them, I want You to know my gratitude.’”
This comes from a book that Dr. Kinlaw wrote called This Day with the Master. I never heard him tell it from the pulpit. Yet, I can see him standing before a congregation after relating this account of prayer with a wry smile on his face, letting the irony of this story soak into the listeners. He is silent except for perhaps the gentle tapping of one finger on the pulpit, counting off the time it takes for the story to penetrate our hearts, time to deal with the paradox of an atheist praying, expressing gratitude to he knows not what. Then he asks us who are supposed to know.