I really enjoyed the book Powerful Prayers by Larry King. Larry was raised Jewish but considers himself agnostic. He asks Rabbi Irwin Katsof, “Why can’t God speak English?” Let me quote from the book for a moment. From page 163,
I can accept that God would send us a challenge so that we might learn from the experience, but we shouldn’t need an Orphan Annie decoder ring to figure out the message he’s trying to send.
So I put the question to the rabbi: If a prayer is answered, but we’re not given the tools to decipher it and are not even aware it has been answered because so much mishagoss–Yiddish for “craziness”–has been piled on top of it, then the prayer really hasn’t been answer. Or has it?
Another uncomfortable pause at the other end of the phone. Or maybe the discomfort was on my end? Let’s see, if an uncomfortable pause occurs and there’s nobody there to hear it…
“Larry, if a prayer is answer and your eyes aren’t open, then of course you’re not going to see it or understand it.”
“Why can’t God speak English? Why all the hoops?”
What do you want? You want it delivered every morning like the newspaper? You want room service? You want a Larry Channel on you TV?”
I must admit, I started thinking about the last one and enjoying the idea. With all the TV shows I’ve done, they could program a Larry Channel twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for several years without repeating a show. I had to get my mind off that prospect and back to the heat of the debate.
“I want to understand it, Rabbi, that’s all.”
“You have to work at getting a conversation started, correct?”
“Can you have a conversation if one participant isn’t listening?”
“Larry, God knows what we need. So we don’t pray to God to remind him, we pray to God to remind ourselves. The essence of prayer is choice. Prayers help us refine and affirm what it is we want out of our lives. God desires our growth as human beings. Like any good parent, he doesn’t spoil us by giving us what we want on a silver platter.”
“We are confronted with obstacles, and we struggle when we lose awareness of God. Understanding isn’t given, it is earned. We encounter roadblocks in life because we’ve lost sight of our path to God. Prayer is the map that leads us out of the wilderness and connects us to God.”
“Hmm,” I said, vamping for time and not really understanding.
“The concept of this is called ‘the bread of shame.’ Unless you earn it, you are spoiled. Let me ask you this: Were you an overnight success as a talk show host?”
“Hardly. I worked at it a long time, struggled for years.”
“So that didn’t come easy?”
“Don’t you think the struggle makes the success that much sweeter?”
I couldn’t disagree. I looked out my hotel window and started thinking about something Lou Holtz said in our interview.
Faith is nothing more than believing when you have no proof. People say, “Show me proof and I’ll believe.” That’s not faith. That’s fact. There’s a big difference. — Lou Holtz
I think far too many people view prophets as looking into a crystal ball and seeing the future. While that may happen for some prophets some of the time, they too have to walk by faith, not fact. As Paul said in 1 Cor 13:9-12,
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known
So, I bring the question to you: Why can’t God speak English? What do you think of Rabbi Katsof’s answer?