Sunday, May 24, 2009

Every Hair On Your Head

“We are all praying for you,” or “We’ll be praying for you. In the last two weeks I think at least 300 people have told me they are or will be praying for Sue (and me and the girls). Quite possibly the number who are praying is much higher. Some may be praying for Sue who haven’t even told her they would.

Let’s say 500 people join in prayer for Sue once a week on Sunday when the pastor makes them, and half that many (250) pray for her one additional time a week, and half that many (125) pray for her once a day, and half that many (75) pray for her twice a day. Now, assuming our assumptions and our math are correct, we have, for Sue alone, over 1,000 prayer petitions going up to God every week. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 11 million American people were living with cancer in 2005. Presumably the number is higher today. Presumably the number is much higher worldwide. But if just the 11 million in the U.S. have 1,000 prayer petitions offered for them weekly, then God receives 11 billion cancer prayer petitions per week for Americans only.

Now factor in world population and the myriad other reasons besides cancer that people might petition God – non-cancer illnesses and injuries, financial problems, marital problems, relationship problems, addictions etc. You can now imagine that God probably gets trillions of prayer petitions a day.

It would be easy to be cynical about God’s ability to hear and process and respond to each one of these trillions of prayers personally and compassionately. But I am not cynical about it because I have experienced God’s direct response to prayer. I don’t know how God does it, but I guess God is bigger than we think.

[Note: The reply comment by Jim is worth reading.]

3 comments:

  1. Jim@Sticky Gecko responded to me directly by email, as follows:

    You wrote: "But if just the 11 million in the U.S. have 1,000 prayer petitions offered for them weekly, then God receives 11 billion cancer prayer petitions per week for Americans only."

    Think about this:

    11,000,000 (11 million) USA cancer patients x 1,000 prayer petitions per USA cancer patient per week = 11,000,000,000 (11 billion) USA cancer prayer petitions per week.


    11,000,000,000 (11 billion) USA cancer prayer petitions per week x 52 weeks per year = 572,000,000,000 (572 billion) USA cancer prayer petitions per year.


    60 seconds per minute x 60 minutes per hour x 24 hours per day x 365 days per year = 31,536,000 (~ 31.5 million) seconds per year.


    572,000,000,000 (572 billion) USA cancer prayer petitions per year / 31,536,000 (~ 31.5 million) seconds per year ~ 18,138 USA cancer prayer petitions per second.


    The fastest HUMAN super computers operate in excess of one petaFLOPS, which is 10,000,000,000,000,000 (10 to the power of 15) operations per second. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FLOPS)


    Assuming God was able to process the USA cancer prayer petitions at the same rate that a current human super computer performs operations, God would be processing the petitions at approximately 1 / 551,328,702,172 (approximately five-hundred-fifty-billionth) of His capacity. In other words, at the given rates of petitions made and petition processing capacity, USA cancer prayer petitions actually made would have to increase about 550 billion times their current rate before God would need to increase His processing capacity.

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  2. Oh my goodness. I didn't even follow that. But the fact that it kept going?...funny.

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