Normally, I tend to be easy going, relaxed and even laid-back, but when the time comes for sucking it up, moving out with determination and purpose or lending a helping hand—I get the job done. I ask no to do it for me, although I might ask for help—once. This morning I received a chain email prayer for the President. I voted for Barack Obama and personally, I like the man even if I don’t agree with everything he does, but asking for prayer is the lowest insult.
Prayer is the lazy way of doing something without doing anything, truly a masterpiece of mental engineering. In lieu of a hospital visit—pray; instead of going to your Congressperson’s office—pray; rather than donate blood—pray. When someone offers to pray for you, the hidden message is “You’re not worth my time.” At the absolute best, prayer is nothing but wishing. Rubbing on an old lamp would produce the same result except, the lamp would be shiny when you finally put it in a garage sale. Said honestly, prayer is justification for sitting on one’s ass while life piles yellow snow at the door.
What follows are prime examples of “assisms” or things people could do for themselves if they get off their asses To get an idea of the irrational, apathetic and begging nature of prayer, here are some excerpts from the presidential prayer request I received today:
Let’s start with the very first wish. “I pray that before the end of his term, people’s heart, mind, and eyes will open.” How much begging is necessary just to get the improbable not the impossible done? This request registered on the books when the species hit the ground crawling and now even the cobwebs have dust on them. It gets better with the entreaty to make the president act like the greatest mass murderer of all time. “May he lead and be guided in the way God would want him to lead and guide.” Does this mean to slaughter our enemies, including killing their livestock, all the males and keeping all the young virgins as sex slaves, or just the first born? As I recall God’s leadership often requires genocide, rape and slavery.
I eventually ran into an assism that almost made sense, almost. “He and this whole country is in need of our prayers.” Yes, the country is in need, but as I stated before prayer is little more than sitting on one’s ass and wondering why the grass remains unmowed. What the country needs is to collectively get off its ass and take concrete action like a recall election of every congressperson in the United States. Or, if that is unpopular, how about boycotting those that continue to gouge (quaint word) us? This one should be appealing to religionist because sitting on the ass is part of the job. I think, remembering qualifies as an action.
Ignoring the Obvious
Obviously, whoever wrote this prayer knows nothing about modern innovations like education and reading saying, “Only God can sustain such energy, knowledge, and person” and the equally inane “We pray for optimum health, mental clarity and political prosperity for President Barack Obama.” Apparently, this person doesn’t get out often because a good education, decent diet and just being alive accomplish the same thing without begging, and has the added benefit of knowing “you did it your way.”
An Ultimate Assism
“We pray that what he lacks in political ‘experience’ you make up for with supernatural wisdom and power.” This same wisdom screwed up the first attempt at creation and rather than correct the mistake with a snap of the fingers, decided that Noah and family were the only humans worthy of living and drowned the rest of the world. As far as power is concerned, the aforementioned entity used it all during biblical times because it has not been able to change much since then. It seems tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes are a little much for a power that stopped the sun in the sky.
The Invisible and the Nonexistent
Finally, there is “Please let us form a powerful prayer chain around our President and his family and ask God to secure it with love, protection, mercy and grace.” Years ago, probably before most of you were born, there was a television commercial for toothpaste that hawked its product by saying that it formed an “invisible protective shield” around the teeth to help prevent tooth decay—fluoride.
Nearly 75 years ago, J.M. Barrie wrote, “If you believe, clap your hands; don’t let Tink die.” Prayer makes as much sense as clapping to keep Tinkerbelle alive. No one would ever die, if prayer had any effect as most desire heaven, but few wish to die. Based on the amount of prayers that escape into the ether, it seems the hit-rate is less than a portion of a percent. The idea of praying to an all-knowing and all-benevolent God is little more than whining and asking for favors.
Even a quick glance at the omniscient God makes it clear that prayers don’t help. An all-knowing and all-benevolent God already surely knows what thoughts come and go in the minds of his creations, if he doesn’t, then, he doesn’t know everything. Granting omniscience makes all prayer superfluous as an all-benevolent and knowing God already knows what is best for us and has already provided what we need. Prayer says that God doesn’t know what is best. In fact, it says we know better as we seek to change what God already ordained.
The idea of praying to overcome the laws of nature or the circle of life smells of Hollywood movies depicting tribal communities running from the thunder or chanting to the various sky gods man invented over the ages. All claims to sophistication fall on the same ground as those who believed in Zeus, Quetzalcoatl or Odin and the hundreds of other gods created by man’s attempts to find explanations for life. No one in his or her right mind believes in any of the gods listed, but manages to find truth in a god called Yahweh.
Nothing Fails Like Prayer
All the praying done every day in the United States since its founding didn’t stop World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, presidential assassinations, 911 or the latest recession.
Prayer is nothing more than a series of assisms strung together that encourage shirking responsibility, running from the fight and seeking the easy fix. Praying is not taking action, but the avoidance of accountability, the flight from steadfastness and an escape from obligation.