Prayer and Winning the Lottery

Written by Karl Dahlfred.

I was talking this evening with our neighbor across the street and he asked if I could thank my wife for praying for him because he felt that those prayers had helped him win the lottery. Lest that you think that we prayed for a winning lottery ticket, I'll provide a little background here. About a week ago, we sat with him for a number of hours in front of his home chatting about this and that. Sun wanted to ask him some questions for an cultural research assignment from our language school but we also talked a lot about various topics, including spiritual ones.

Our neighbor's perspective on religion is not that uncommon among Thais, namely that all religions are good and in order to be a good person, you basically need to set your mind to it and you can be a good person, which is the end goal of religion. All Thai people are familiar with the Buddhist saying, "The only thing that you can depend upon is yourself." He is not into amulets or going to the temple because he says that he counts those as sacred in his heart, so he doesn't need to buy something to hang around his neck or go to a certain place. I've had many conversations with him over the months that we've been here and I often stop and chat with him at his roadside fruit cart when I pass by on the way to the market. Whenever I talk about the Gospel, he always has basically the same response - something along the lines of "We're pretty much the same, you and I. But we're just from different countries and have different ways of being faithful. But we're both intentional in thinking and doing good as we understand it."

Coming back to the lottery, when Sun and I visited with him last week, Sun asked if we could pray for him, which we did. Even though he is Buddhist and we are Christian, he was okay to have us pray for him, as many Thai people would be. The general feeling among Thai is that prayer or asking for blessing from above in any variety is a good thing and certainly can't hurt. And it might even help since who knows what spiritual beings are out there who might be able to help me? So our neighbor friend was happy for us to pray for him. And he even said some kind of benediction for us in response - that we would be happy, wealthy, healthy, and so forth. I couldn't quite say that he was praying or chanting but he was certainly wish us well, wherever he believed the power to bring such things to pass was coming from. In any case, when I saw him tonight he thanked me for our prayers because he had just won 13,000 Baht ($371 USD) in the lottery. That's not megabucks but compared to the income of many Thai, it's nothing to shake a stick at. For example, the monthly salary of a beginning school teacher is about 6000 Baht ($171 USD). When he told us that he won the lottery because of our prayers, I couldn't really say "Praise God" since playing the lottery isn't a good or wise thing to do, so I said, "Wow, that's a lot of money". We pray that someday he will come to understand, like King David in Psalm 67, that we ask God to bless us for our own gain, but so that God name will be known and exalted in all the earth.
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