specific searches

I have been looking for a new member of the family. It’s nothing as noble or significant as adoption or fostering, I have been looking for another puppet. After Stew the Rabbit’s close encounter of the inky kind the deacons at the church I have just left kindly gave me a gift with instructions to find a new puppet friend.

So I have looked online and have found someone. He’s on his way now, and I may well introduce you when he arrives. But while I was looking online I decided to see if there was any possibility of getting a new ‘Stew’ puppet. I searched in every possible way I could for the puppet, using the manufacturer’s name and code, the name they sold him under and even a description and there was nothing. Just the gentle hiss of static electricity as the internet looked blankly back at me. So I am now going to see if I can give Stew the Rabbit a bit of a clean up as he’s a bit grubby after about 19 years of use. But he’s not going in the washing machine, even if I tell him there’s carrots in there!

frustratedAfter I had given up looking for an exact replacement bunny I wondered what would happen if I put the words ‘stew the rabbit’ into my search engine. It was not pleasant. Rabbit stew recipes everywhere! Then I wondered what would happen if I put ‘”Stew the Rabbit”‘ (in quotation marks) into the search engine and lo and behold mention of him on this blog was the one of the first things that came up! And if I did an image search with the same subject a picture of him was on the first page! Stew the Rabbit is not famous but “Stew the Rabbit” is!

It’s amazing the difference that those quotation marks made. To the computer they made the difference between searching for occurrences of the words stew and rabbit (it ignores the ‘the’) in any order, leading it to find all sorts of ways to cook a rabbit (I hope Stew never googles his name!); and searching for Stew the Rabbit exactly as it is written, leading the computer to find the little white bunny.

I wonder whether in our praying we ought to be as precise? I don’t mean putting ‘air quotes’ around our prayers. What I mean is that sometimes we can be a bit general – God bless all those who are persecuted for their faith, feed all the hungry people in the world, stop the spread of Ebola. I am sure God hears and honours those prayers but they are so general that we may never see the answer to those prayers. However, if we are more specific the easier it will be for us to see the results. That does mean that we need to do a bit of research, finding out about people and their needs, but I believe that if we do we will be encouraged by how we see God at work. And our praying may be more meaningful to us because we will be praying about people not just issues. (Do pray for the big stuff too!).

Don’t think that you will always get what you pray for – God’s not a spiritual slot machine where if you put in enough prayers you get what you want – but you will see evidence of God’s will being done and his kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

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