Does God answer prayers about gas prices?

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By Bobbie Lanham

Pray at the Pump is a new movement to enlist God's power to lower gas prices. Activist Rocky Twyman, of the Washington, D.C. area, began the group a few months ago because soup kitchen volunteers were unable to drive in from the suburbs because of rising gas prices. So Twyman started the prayer groups.

People met at gas stations to ask God to give them lower gas prices. So, when prices went down, they gathered to thank God for the recent dip in prices.

However, I'm not so sure it is God's plan to lower our gas prices. Why should He?

When He created the universe, He put natural laws and principles into place. Gravity, oceanic tides, the weather and even laws governing business and economics. If there is a shortage of something, the price goes up. Even with my scarce knowledge of supply and demand, I can comprehend that fact. If something is a dime a dozen, there are dozens of them to be had. If there are not even a dozen barrels of oil to buy, we are going to need lots and lots of dimes.

Maybe we had it coming. Maybe God means for us to think about where our resources come from and the effects of our wasteful lifestyles. Wasteful people in the Bible were labeled as such. People in the Bible who did not plan well suffered the consequences of their actions. People laugh at poor planning.

If we are held up for 15 minutes in a drive-thru, we are fuming. If traffic inconveniences us, we rage. Many people are still buying huge SUVs and leaving them running in the parking lot while we run into a store for a fountain drink.

Why would God relieve gas prices when we continue to act so wasteful? We Americans have become comfortable, sloppy and intolerant. We confuse our values. We don't take care of the resources we do have. Maybe God's message is to slow down and pay attention.

A journalist, John O'Sullian wrote an essay in 1845 that arrogantly touted America's supreme place in the world. As if we were chosen by God, he said it is "our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions."

Excuse me? I'm not so sure God chose us to steamroll over continents. Sure, we now stretch across a whole continent and beyond. But it was not because we were chosen to be supreme in the world.

We were scrappy, brave and victorious both in diplomacy and war. And we have become a powerful, even blessed nation.

And we are still scrappy, brave and victorious. I'm glad I live here. God has been good to me. But that does not mean God is on my side ONLY. That does not mean the price of oil could be better for America ONLY. The United States and other countries of the world all have to find lots and lots of dimes, because we all like to use lots and lots of oil and gasoline. That fact may have nothing to do with God's answer to prayer.

Perhaps the better prayer at the pump is for kindness, guidance and humility. Perhaps God would have us drive less, eat less and use less. Perhaps God would have us be scrappy, brave and victorious in things other than gas prices and manifest destiny of a continent. We should invoke God to help us pay attention, with kindness, guidance and humility, to the resources we do have.