by Robert Brow (www.brow.on.ca), Kingston, Ontario, March 2006
A few days ago I googled through the first fifty of thousands of articles on Quantum Entanglement. There is no way I can get to first base in the physics of how it works. I am comforted that even Einstein could not get his mind around the idea of "spooky action at a distance." Apparently scientists can make Quantum Entanglement happen, but no one knows why it occurs. It obeys no known laws of science.
A quantum is a small bundle (particle or unit) of energy like a photon of light. And the astonishing thing is that the state of one entangled bundle of energy can influence the state of its entangled partner however far they are apart. This has been demonstrated over distances as great as here to the moon. The influence is apparently instantaneous, and it cannot be slowed by any obstacle such as a thick lead blanket.
Whether or not Quantum Entanglement will ever be explained, or even proved to be an unquestioned scientific fact, my interest is to see if this might provide a model to illuminate what happens when I pray. What would it mean for two people to influence each other by prayer half way across the globe?
Quantum Entanglement takes place by the interaction of two bundles of energy. So let us imagine the Son of God as a bundle of energy filled with the Holy Spirit. "Jesus full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness" (Luke 1:4). "Then Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, returned to Galilee" (Luke 4:14). "All in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them" (Luke 6:19). Again and again it seems that faith was needed to make the prayer entanglement with Jesus. But this power could also influence healing at a distance. The Roman officer said "Only speak the word and my servant will be healed" (Luke 7:7).
After the Day of Pentecost Jesus’ disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4), and they too were given the power to be "bundles of energy" filled with the Holy Spirit. They could pray for one another and for others who came to faith through their influence.
Could this model empower us in our prayer for others? How would the entanglement be established? Here I am using the term entanglement as used by scientists. Among humans the idea of being entangled has a very bad connotation. But to keep the analogy of the model we are using I need to picture entanglement in a creative and positive sense.
We know how there can be a powerfully good entanglement between parents and their children. A newborn baby is quickly bonded to its mother and ideally also to the father. Jesus wanted our faith to be like that of a little child. "Unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). Perhaps we could picture a newborn child as a bundle of energy that is easily entangled with God as a loving Father and also with parents or others who act in that role.
As they grow older many reject that early entanglement. Which is why Jesus explained to the Rabbi Nicodemus that we need to born again (or born from above) for the creative entanglement of the Holy Spirit to be reestablished (John 3:3-7).
In an ideal marriage the entanglement of the couple makes it possible for them to communicate with one another at a very deep level. And our model helps us to picture the horror of a woman who finds that, instead of being lovingly entangled, the man merely wanted sex for a time till he moved on to another.
We also know the awful shock when suddenly after a long happy entanglement one partner says "I have found another that I love" or simply "I want out."
After fifty wonderful years of marriage, my wife Mollie died very suddenly of a brain aneurism fourteen months ago. As I write this article, I find it easy to picture how her faith entanglement with God did not end but was freed to meet him face to face. It also gives me the sense that her and my entanglement with one another continues unseen but in creative new ways.
In a church congregation where people love one another we can imagine an entanglement of the Holy Spirit between them. Those who belong to such a loving fellowship, not only enjoy the support of a whole group of other "bundles of energy," but they experience the joy of being able to influence for good an increasing circle of entanglement. And when Christians go out to serve in far away places they value supporters who will be in a prayer entanglement with them. Many of them have reported that in times of crisis, such as a family about to be killed and robbed, they later heard that one of their entangled supporters sensed their danger. As he or she prayed the attackers turned away and took flight.
One of my students at the Allahabad Bible Seminary told me that during the previous vacation he had been terribly sick, was helpless alone, and felt sure he was about to die. Apparently his mother a hundred miles away knew her son was in danger, and she rushed to catch a train that was about to leave. She arrived just in time to save him from certain death.
Obviously our model of spiritual entanglement is not a proof. It is a way of looking in a new way. And like any good model, I find it gives me flashes of illumination and the encouragement to explore deeper. Perhaps a better model of prayer will one day be offered to us, but meanwhile this one is deeply satisfying.