My current situation reminded me a lot of Gideon’s story, from Judges 6. To sum it up, here is what happened:
Gideon: (beating wheat in the winepress)
Angel of the Lord: Hi, Gideon, God is with you.
Gideon: Really? If God is with us, why have all these bad things happened? God has forsaken us.
Angel of the Lord: Go save Israel; I’m sending you.
Gideon: How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest, and I’m the least of them.
Angel of the Lord: I will be with you.
Gideon: Show me a sign, so I know you really are God.
Angel of the Lord: (shows Gideon a sign)
Gideon: Wow okay, you really are God.
Gideon: Hey, God? If you really meant what you said, look at this fleece I’m laying on the ground. If there’s only dew on the fleece, and none on the ground, then I’ll know you are telling the truth.
God: (does the thing)
Gideon: Okay…please don’t be angry, but let me have one more test. This time, if the fleece is dry and there’s dew on the ground, I will know.
God: (does the thing)
If you listen to modern Christians make excuses for why God doesn’t keep his promises about prayer, it sounds a lot like Gideon should’ve been struck dead for daring to test God.
In the bible, we have straightforward promises that 1) if two people pray in agreement for something, God will do it; 2) if you believe, you will receive anything you ask for; and 3) if you pray for the sick, they will get well.
Any Christian can provide plenty of examples of times when the first two promises weren’t fulfilled. During my time as a Christian I asked for many, many things, with absolute faith, and what I learned is that if I want the promise to be fulfilled, I should only ask for things I can get for myself.
Studies have been done where devout Christians were asked to pray for one group of patients, and another group of patients were not prayed for. The results showed that prayer had no effect at all on the recovery rate of the patients, and in fact, the patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of complications.
The excuse I’ve been given is that if you approach prayer scientifically, with the honest goal of learning the truth, God will suddenly stop honoring his promises. Maybe he has performance anxiety? Or maybe he’s petty enough that he’ll break his promises just because you want evidence that he exists. This doesn’t sound to me like a God whose greatest desire is to save everyone. If he really wanted people to know him, he wouldn’t hide any reasonable evidence from people who look for it.
If the Christian bible is infallible, then you would expect to see a measurable difference in the recovery of patients who are prayed for, whether or not you are running a scientific experiment. Either the promise is false, or God forgot to add the terms and conditions (you need to have a certain motivation, you need to only pray for things that he already wants to do, you need to ignore logic and just blindly believe, you can’t ask for something because you want proof of his existence).
Why are Christians so strongly opposed to modern-day Gideons? Perhaps asking God for evidence that his promises are true usually results in evidence that they’re not, so they need some way to disregard the data. It must be disregarded, because that’s the only way to keep believing that everything in the bible is absolute truth.