For most of my life, I’ve asked myself when something good happens if it is from God or if it is a coincidence. I believe that God cares about me and does bless me. I also believe that God allows us to learn on our own in the greatest classroom ever made–life! So how can I know if an “open door” or an unexpected break is a blessing or coincidence?
I’d like to share some things that I’ve personally learned through prayer on the topic, and two experiences that highlighted them for me.
The Straight Answer
When you ask if a blessing is coincidence or as a result of your prayer, what you really want to know is if the good thing that happened is the sine qua non of your prayer. “Sine qua non” is a latin legal term that they taught me in law school. It means “but for cause.”
For example, “But for the action of me praying this morning for someone to make an offer on my house, we wouldn’t have received the offer.” Sine qua non means the one action was the necessary thing that had to happen in order for another thing to occur.
What you really want to know when you ask this question is if you would only have received the blessing if you asked for it, and if you hadn’t prayed for the thing, then you wouldn’t have received it.
Frankly, I think it’s very rare that a prayer is the “sine qua non” of a blessing. God blesses us according to our circumstances and needs. Life is a great classroom and he sometimes leaves us to struggle with problems so that we can become stronger and more knowledgeable.
Asking if your prayer is the “sine qua non” of a blessing is a lot like asking if the one throw that a quarterback made to the receiver in one play of a football game is what won the game for the team. That’s never the case. It took effort from 11 players in hundreds of plays and decisions made to add up to a win.
So Why Pray If It Isn’t the “But for Cause” of Blessings?
I believe that God has many blessings which He wants to give us, but which he holds contingent on us asking for them. And why? Because he wants us to be humble, and to look to Him as the source of our blessings so that we can trust God.
Having Confidence In Where We Place Our Faith
Like you, I don’t like the idea of praying to God just for the sake of praying. I want to know that God hears my prayers and answers them. After all, He said “Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you.”
I have learned for myself that prayers are absolutely answered, and that God has heard my prayers before.
I never have to worry about my prayers not being heard. All good things come from God, and so when something good happens in your life, it is ALWAYS a blessing. Always. And we should ALWAYS thank God for the good things in our life.
But you still may wonder if what happened is an actual miracle or a chance occurrence. That’s normal to wonder, although as I’ve explained, the answer really doesn’t matter.
However, all questions are worth answering, and so I’ll do my best to explain some of the things I’ve learned on this question. I don’t believe I understand it all yet, though.
How Can I Know–For Sure–That Miracles Exist?
Despite being a Christian all my life, there have only been a few times ever where I could say without any question whatsoever that what I was witnessing was a miracle done by God. God does not reveal himself to man and often lets us struggle through our own problems so that we can be humble and learn.
But sometimes God isn’t perfect at hiding His hand, and I have seen God’s work in my life in unexplainable ways. If don’t share most of those experiences because they are very personal to me.
I tell you, miracles exist. Every time I hear some enlightened twit on TV tell the world that God doesn’t exist because he unearthed some scientific discovery, or because logic tells him otherwise, or whatever crap they come up with, I think back to things I’ve seen with my own eyes. And I believe.
I’ve learned to trust God. It took me a lot of years to work out my testimony and to cast light on every shadowy corner of doubt that my mind came up with.
I’ve found that as my testimony in God strengthened, that knowing the answer to this question became easier and easier, and less and less important. All good things come from God, so all good things in my life are from Him.
However, I’ve also learned to recognize the way God works and to be able to discern between chance and blessing.