I believe in a God who answers prayers, and who interacts with me on a personal level. I also believe that God is the creator of all that exists. We don’t know how God created our universe, or even what that universe is composed of (one universe, or many independent ones). We don’t know if life arose from natural processes on Earth, arrived here on a meteor from some extraterrestrial source, or was a creation by God. We don’t know where our souls come from, a natural product of evolution (like our bodies) or breathed into the first human by God. There are so many things we don’t know.
But there are also many things we do know. We do know that life began as single cells, and that evolution by natural selection led to all the species that have ever existed. We know a lot about how life works, and we can worship the creator of such majesty, even if all the intricate, amazing details of biological function are natural results of adaptive evolution. From science we have learned the mechanisms of how the world works. From faith we learn about the agency that created those mechanisms.
The big question we are faced with is where is God? Did God create the universe and withdraw? Does God play a role in the history of life and our planet, in order to further His purposes? Did God intervene in the world?
We cannot find the answers using the human tools of knowledge – scientific investigation and analysis. We might get some clues this way, we might see some pointers, but not enough to be sure. No, the path to truth does not lead through our human knowledge but only through God.
So let us see what God has said and done. We know that God came to walk among us in the form of a man. Christ spent over 30 years amongst us, and the last two or three in active ministry. What did Christ, God incarnate, do during that time? Did He create any new species of animal or plant? No, He did not. He spoke of plants, flowers, birds and animals, but He created no new ones. Did Christ reshape any geological features of our landscape? Did He water the desert, lower any mountains, widen the Jordan River? No, He did not. Did he overturn any of the laws of man or nature? No, he left man and nature to continue as they had been.
Did he change the course of history? Not during his lifetime; that took some time, but eventually everything in the world of humanity changed beyond comprehension.
So what sort of miracles did the Lord do, in his time on Earth? He healed the sick, turned water into wine, calmed the seas, raised the dead, cast out demons, made the blind see. But when challenged by Satan to turn stones into bread for His own sustenance, he refused. Christ performed his miracles, showed his Godhead, only for the benefit of individuals or collections of people, not for glory, not to demonstrate his powers, not to win converts. And what did God tell us, when he preached His sermon, and spoke to us in parables, and stories? He told us to believe, to help each other, to love each other and to love Him. To have mercy, to be forgiving, to find the Kingdom of Heaven in ourselves and each other and in Him.
All that He did and said, all of these miracles, and all of His teaching, all of His ministry to the poor, the outcasts, all of His parables and mercy were directed to one object – His love for His people, us. Jesus Christ, the living God came to us for our sake, to heal us, to redeem us, to sacrifice himself for us. He came to Earth to speak directly to us; he bent His laws of nature for us, for our sakes, to cure us, to help us, to show His love for us, and not for any other purpose.
So I can believe that Christ hears my prayers, answers me in dreams, and in visions and in miraculous events, even if He does not intervene in His own Creation for any other purpose. Our God is not an absent God, nor does he deny us the freedom to make our own choices. And yet, when we need Him to, God intervenes for us. For me and for you and for all.
I did not always believe this to be true. As an agnostic, and even when I began believing that God might be real, I wondered why so many of my prayers and wishes were not being answered. Looking back now, after the passage of many decades, I can see a pattern that was not clear at all when I first prayed to God for professional success, a happy marriage, good health, and occasionally even survival, for myself or others I loved. And that pattern is that all of those things were indeed granted to me. Some took a lot of time, some required considerable effort and sometimes courage on my part. But here I am today, healthy, happy, alive and about as successful as I would want to be, and I know all of it is due to the grace of God, who always answers prayers, in His own time, and in His own way.