Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Prayer And Elevator Algorithms

Today I'm going to talk about elevators. There is much about their workings that speaks to me and invites scriptural correlations.

The simplest situation with an elevator is to have one elevator with two floors. If you push the button the elevator either opens or it is sitting on the other floor and comes to you and opens.

If you have more floors and more people pushing buttons inside the elevator and outside on floors calling the elevator it gets more complex.

It has several parts:
- The elevator continues to traveling in the same direction while there are remaining requests in that same direction.
- If a either the 'up' or 'down' button is pushed the elevator will stop and open if it is going in the same direction of it's destination.
- If there are no further requests in that direction, it stops and become idle and can be 'called' to move from a button pressed on one of the floors or 'sent' by a button pressed inside the elevator.

If there are multiple elevators it gets much more complex and heuristic algorithms are needed. There are different ideas about prioritizing the requests from outside the elevators. Engineers use different algorithms to control the traffic. Some elevator banks are programmed differently than others. Individual elevators can be given different priorities.

Most of us travel on elevators all the time and we may wait and wonder why we are waiting. Some elevators show you what floor the elevator we are waiting for is on and some don't. I think one of the reasons they show you the floor the elevator is on is to lessen the wear on the call button. When people get impatient they keep hitting the button to make the elevator come faster... it doesn't of course. If people see where the elevator is they lay off the call button.

I got a lot of seed thoughts from these concepts but mostly it made me think about prayer. Some prayers are short and sweet. We pray and it is answered in moments or days. Others have so many factors we can't know or see. People, events and important interactions are happening on so many levels.

Someone needs to hit the button or the elevator won't come. Maybe the guy standing there has already hit the button. There could be 10 people crammed into that elevator going to every floor and when the door does open it might not be going in my direction... etc... etc...

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." - Matthew 7:7-8 ESV

Religion tells us we must always press the button or even climb the stairs if we are ever going to get anywhere. God does ask us to pray and says...

"You do not have, because you do not ask." - James 4:2b ESV

But in truth God is doing things behind the scenes and many times God does not show us what floor the elevator we are waiting is on. Nor do we know what direction it is going to go in once we get on. We press buttons by faith and get in by faith trusting God.

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:26-28 ESV

God in His sovereignty is pushing buttons behind the scenes. He knows and allows things to happen in a certain way. He is not just sovereign in a few areas. He is sovereign in every area all the time. There are just many people moving in many directions.

I am determined to be a person that pushes the button by faith and pushes the button by faith for others.


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