There are a number of studies that I don't have time to read through in order to make my point, so I am going to give you the link to the first study I found when I Googled "neuroscience and Christian prayer". As far as I can tell this scientist is either atheist or agnostic. He talks about Christians in a distant, hands-off kind of way. You can click on here to get to the entire article.
"In a recent study our team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to
investigate how the brain responded to praying in Christian believers.
Surprisingly, considering God’s postulated invisibility, omnipresence,
omnipotence, and omniscience, we found that conversing with God was not
associated with regions that process abstract concepts. Rather, we found a
marked pattern of activity in four regions that typically activate when humans
relate to other humans. Neurologically, this finding suggests that strong
believers process God as a concrete person – in spite of the theologically
complex and highly abstract nature of the Christian God. Interestingly, we did
not find this pattern in believers who did not use praying regularly. Perhaps
the religious brain can learn to treat gods as real persons through regular
practice and strong beliefs."
Now, obviously where I differ is "perhaps the religious brain can learn to treat gods as real persons through regular practice and strong beliefs." I am not a crazy person. I'm logical. I'm smart. I have very good common sense. Yet, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have a relationship with God that's as real as my relationship with my husband. In fact, God and I go way further back than me and Jason. That said, I believe the man when he says, "We did not find this pattern in believers who did not use praying regularly." You will only hear God when you learn His voice. When I call Jason's phone I know immediately if someone else is answering because I know Jason's voice. The same is true with God.
Below are stories from Monday and Tuesday that have really led to me thinking about prayer this week.
On Monday morning I had an appointment to take my car into the shop. That morning I woke up thinking about a project I needed to get done at work. I mean, the very first coherent thought I had when I woke up was, I wonder when I'm going to be able to get that done. I sat and went through the calendar and realized that it would be well into September before I would be able to go to the hangar to work on it. Once I decided it was something to leave for another day I moved onto to thinking about something else. I finally got out of bed and started getting ready. I was running a few minutes later than planned, but I knew that if I left right then I would still be on time to my appointment. I grabbed my water, smoothie, computer bag and purse and headed out the door. The driver side door was already opened so I balanced the smoothie in a too small cup holder and put my water and purse in the driver seat so that I could free up my hands to put my computer bag in the back seat. Once my computer was safely in the back seat I shut the rear door and my smoothie went flying. It was all over my car, all over the drive way and all over me. I might have said a curse word, but the very next thing out of my mouth was, "DADDY, WHY DID YOU LET THIS HAPPEN?! I KNOW YOU COULD HAVE PREVENTED IT!" Before I could even form my next thought I heard the still, small voice. "Because you really need to go into work today."
"Okay, I will. Thank you for getting my attention. Now, can you please help me get this green stuff out of my car and off my leather shoes?"
My car is fine, my clothes are clean and I'm not joking, miracle of miracles, there is no green on my light pink leather moccasins. And, I spent 8 solid hours working on my project and made ginormous headway.
That's a real life example of my life with God. Tuesday, is an example of the times I really enjoy. When God allows something to happen in my life that makes His words in scripture come alive to me.
So, yesterday I went and worked at the farm. I basically show up when I can and do whatever the GM (general manager) needs done. Yesterday, first thing, the goats needed to be walked. This is where they are let out of their area of the pasture and walked down the road so they can eat what grows along the side of the road. As with EVERYTIME I've gone to the farm, the GM has way more confidence in my knowledge than he should. He always gives me a project and then leaves me to it. I mess it up, watch him fix it and then know how to deal with it from that point on. Yesterday was no different. The GM opened the gated area where the kids stay and said, "Okay, goats are followers, just call them and they will come." And then he left.
I started walking the baby goats. As we are going down the road their mothers spotted them from a different pasture and start running toward the fence. The baby goats take off running and before I know it they are wriggling themselves through the space between the gate and the fence post. They've gone into the pasture and I'm left outside the gate!!! I know this is bad because they immediately start drinking their mother's milk, from which they have already been weaned, and the mother's haven't been milked yet. The milk is money and I'm watching it disappear before my eyes!
I'm standing there in panic mode just watching this happen. Finally, the GM is heading back from where he has been and I flag him down. He goes into the pasture and tries to catch one of the kids, but it's hopeless. The baby is ducking and darting and hiding behind the big goats. So, the GM lets all the goats out and we walk them back to the other fenced area. We get them all inside and then one by one we catch the big goats, who were wearing collars thank goodness. I was very good at this. Once I caught one and it didn't bite me I started catching two at a time and walking them out. Now adults and kids are once again separated. Adults outside the gate and kids inside. The GM shows me once more that all you have to do is say, "Here goats, goats, goats" and they come running! Then, once more he leaves me to it. The adults were easier than the kids. They were WAY more interested in eating.
As I opened the gate and watched all these goats run toward his voice I realized that I was seeing exactly what Christ talks about in scripture, "and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him because they do not know the stranger's voice." I pasted the passage below from biblehub.com because the entire passage is way more powerful than the small amount I remembered.
John 10:1-18 (New American Standard Version of the Bible)
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of
the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. 2“But he who
enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. 3“To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4“When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5“A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6This figure
of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things
were which He had been saying to them. 7So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8“All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and
have it abundantly.
11“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12“He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13“He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. 14“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. 17“For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18“No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
I know that I'm getting long winded, but next time your "gut" is telling you something. Stop and ask God to make it clear whether or not it's really Him trying to get your attention. The only way you will know His voice is if you learn what it sounds like. I encourage you to practice praying and then waiting to see if you hear anything. It might take some time, but if you ask God to make himself known to you He will. Without question, He will.
7“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8“For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9“Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10“Or if he asks for a fish, he will
not give him a snake, will he? 11“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!