Miracles and Prayer

St. Augustine makes an identical point about miracles in his discussion of the miracle at Cana. “Our Lord’s miracle in turning water into wine comes as no surprise to those who know that it is God who did it. At the wedding that day he made wine in the six waterpots he had had filled with water; but he does the same thing every year in the vines. The servants put the water in the jugs, and he turned it into wine. In just the same way the Lord turns into wine the water that the clouds drop. Only that does not amaze us, because it happens every year … So the Lord kept back certain unusual things for himself to do, to wake us up with miracles to worship him.”

The miracle that breaks the rules reminds us that the rules themselves are miraculous. We need to rediscover and to cherish a basic sense of wonder, of surprise, of the precariousness of actuality. Ecclesiastes, the dismal worldweary preacher of the Old Testament, might grumble that “there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccles 1:9); but the New Testament answers loudly and excitedly, “Look! I am making all things new” (Apoc 21:5). Of course, we may all of us sometimes get Ecclesiastes moods, and if we do, it is comforting to know that they are not utterly debarred from God’s domain; but we should not devote our minds and imaginations to prolonging and justifying them. We should aim rather to have minds and imaginations able to respond joyfully to the truth that in Christ everything is given back its youth and at least something of the freshness of the very first days of creation.

Morning has broken Like the first morning, Blackbird has spoken Like the first bird. Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning! Praise for them, springing Fresh from the Word!

To experience the world like this must lead us, however indefinitely, in the direction of prayer, because this kind of appreciation cannot help but include an element of thanksgiving. As Chesterton said: “Children are grateful when Santa Claus puts in their stockings gifts of toys or sweets. Could I not be grateful to Santa Claus when he put in my stockings the gift of two miraculous legs?”

–Simon Tugwell, Prayer