Digital Devotion – Forgetful Faith and Answered Prayers

1 John 5:14-15

3 minute read

Digital Devotion – Forgetful Faith and Answered Prayers

1 John 5:14-15
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.

I’m willing to bet you’ve experienced “The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon” many times in your life, you just didn’t know what to call it. The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, coined in 1986 by Terry Mullen, is when a concept or thing you just found out about suddenly seems to appear everywhere.

Baader-Meinhof is caused by two psychological processes. The first, selective attention, kicks in when you’re struck by a new word, thing, or idea, and after that, you unconsciously keep an eye out for it. As a result, you find it surprisingly often.

The second process, confirmation bias, reassures you that each new sighting is further proof of your impression that the thing has gained overnight omnipresence.

All of that is just a fancy way of saying that after you purchase a new car, you notice cars you never noticed before, that look just like yours. Or you hear a new band and then start to notice their music playing everywhere. That’s the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, and it doesn’t just happen with bands, cars, or phrases, in a weird way, I think faith works like that too. Let me explain.

Every day, I don’t see a thousand blessings and answered prayers in my life. Like the fact that my legs or eyes function, or the fact that I can breathe because of photosynthesis. I don’t recognize all the answered prayers in my life because after God answered them, I moved on to other prayers.

When I look at my wife, I forget she’s an answer to a prayer my mom and dad prayed. When my baby poops in another diaper, I forget I asked God to give me a healthy child.

But here’s where Badder-Meinhof comes in, once you pay attention to an answered prayer you start seeing them everywhere. You can’t not see them.

I pulled out my journal from 2015 the other day and found a list of prayers I wrote down on August 9, 2015. There were 16 prayers written down, and I knew God had answered some of them, but I had forgotten many of the prayers I had prayed that day. I took a highlighter and highlighted every prayer God had answered. To my surprise 13 of the 16 prayers had been answered, and the other 3 are still a possibility, crazy right? Not really.

A pair of psychologists conducted an interesting study a decade ago. They asked volunteers to wear a helmet that allowed researchers to analyze brain activity while the volunteer won and lost during a computer-simulated wagering game. With each wager, the frontal cortex of the brain showed increased electrical activity within milliseconds, but what surprised the researchers was there was much greater brain activity after a loss than after a win. They came to the simple but profound conclusion: losses are more memorable than wins.

If you had asked me what percentage of prayers God answered in my life, I would have said maybe 30-40%. I only remember the significant prayers, and I especially remember the prayers that aren’t answered, the prayers that feel like a loss, but on Aug 9, 2015, God answered 13 of the prayers I prayed. Looking at my journal reminded me of something, God answers more prayers than I give Him credit for. If “Answered Prayer Percentage” was a real thing, I’m almost positive your APP is higher than you think it is.

My grandfather used to say, “if you want to double your money just fold it in half and put in back in your pocket.” Let me steal the premise. If you want God to answer more prayers, take better notes. He already is, you just don’t realize it.

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Digital Devotion: God Is Able, But So Are You
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Digital Devotion: God Is Able, But So Are You

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