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Prayer for What?

On the front page of today’s USA TODAY there’s a photograph of two women standing in a public square and praying. The New Testament tells Christians not to make spectacles of themselves in public demonstrations of prayer; nevertheless we see these two women putting on quite a display. Their hands and elbows are inclined just so; their heads are bowed to the horizon just so; their eyes assume the preferred not-quite-closed status.

The event sparking this prayer spectacle is the sad disappearance of a seven year-old boy. That seven-year-old boy later turned up very sadly dead. What went wrong? Were these women’s hands not placed in proper orientation in relation to the Zodiac? Were their eyes not shut properly? Did they simply not pray hard enough, not want that little boy to be alive hard enough? If prayer can work wonders, is it the fault of these women that the seven year-old boy is dead?

If it is not the fault of the women who prayed for this poor boy’s safety, then is it the fault of God? God is all-knowing and all-seeing. God was well aware of the mortal danger facing this young boy. God received the prayers of these two women and presumably thousands of others. God could have done something about it; he is omnipotent, after all. So why didn’t he? Is God an asshole?

Or is intercessory prayer without effect? Is God either indifferent to suffering or nonexistent? Is the main function of public prayer to make ourselves look good and feel better when bad things happen to other people?

Let us proclaim the mystery of faith.

5 comments to Prayer for What?

  • Mike

    This is one of the saddest things I have ever read. To think that the writer has given up all hope and resigned themselves to the fact that it is truly over is heartbreaking. Without prayer, this country and our world have no hope. God works in His own mysterious and wonderful ways. Sometimes bad things happen. They happpen to allow us the opportunity to focus our attention where it needs to be…on Him. We often times learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others. Our God did not create us as robots or machines, to do exactly what we are told. He created us as free thinking beings. We are going to make mistakes and hopefully learn from them.

  • AT

    So then, Mike, is prayer an attempt for us to persuade God to change his mind, or is it an opportunity for God to change ours? We should know this if prayer is in fact “our only hope.”

  • Hi Mike, I do pray, when I up the wall, I do understand that I would love the existance of a Supreme Been as such, to whom we can bring our heavy burdens and ask HIS interception BUT as an educated man that have read a lot about different religions,I am intensely aware that I am not much different from the primitive man that worshiped the sun or the moon.
    Since I can not deny the existence of WHAT I DO NOT KNOW, because I know very little of myself, I rather be hopeful and pray a little when pressure builds, let me be a COWARD, please, a was a declared non beliver for many years, in my youth, I do not frequent any church, I am not a sheep to have a Pastor.
    Furthermore a little religion with MODERATION can not hurt anybody.
    The religion I do practice every day is helping my fellow human, oppose war becauses causes irreparable damage on us and others and try to understand other, regardless of my biasses.
    But to put the future of the country on FAITH AND PRAYERS, HECK THAT IS JUST TOO MUCH. Country future is to be place on knowledge of the world, which unfortunately few of my fellow Americans know since we all read want we agree on and not opposite oppinions.
    Worst us American think we know the world and other cultures, although have not ever been to Canada for a week and speak only english and mistrust all foreigners and do not engage in construtive talk with them.

    Joseph

    PS1 I am a proud US Citizen for over 40 years, by option, not a citizen by geographic accident (people that just happened to be born here)
    PS2 Sorry If I step in many shoes.

  • Jim

    “Sometimes bad things happen. They happen to allow us the opportunity to focus our attention where it needs to be…on Him.”

    So then God is an asshole. A narcissistic asshole willing to let seven-year-old boys die so that we will all fluff his omnipresent regard a bit more.

    You want me to worship that?

  • SpudBreau

    I heard about this mistreatment of prisoners the other day. It sounded pretty cruel and bizarre, but I heard it was actually being done, and more common than something this dastardly should ever be.

    First, you’re placed in the dark, 24/7. To keep you on edge, they play some muffled sounds that you can barely make out, and sometimes there are some flashes of light. This is to play with your head and confuse you.

    You are dropped into an actual bag that is so tight you can barely wiggle your arms and legs, which are pinned up against you. To make it even more uncomfortable, it is kept clammy and wet.

    (Off subject for a second. Have you ever seen the cheezy movie with Chuck Norris: Missing in Action 2/the beginning? My favorite scene is where Chuck is tied upside down by his feet and a bag with a live rat is pulled over his head. There’s a loud struggle, then all is silent and the bag flows red. His watching comrades are all at the edge of tears for their fellow prisoner. Then the bag is removed, presenting Chuck with the dead rat between his teeth! I never laughed so hard when I saw that. But I digress…)

    Back to the torture. You are given nothing to eat, but a feeding tube is shoved into you. You have no way to speak because your mouth is sealed. You feel as if there is no way for you to breathe. This has been know to go on for months at a time.

    When you are finally let out, the lights are blinding, and you are often beaten further. You are cold, naked and shivering.

    By now you have figured out this is what an infant is subjected to. (and let’s not even get into the birth process itself. I can only say yuuuck!, and ouuch!)

    So the question is raised: are these months of unpleasant, cramped confinement worth it?

    Who really asks to go back?
    But does the birthing infant have any idea of what in life awaits him or her?

    Please consider this: our human life itself may be like this. We may have experienced discomfort, pain, and the exit from it might be rather nasty for many of us. Yet, as infants, we do not necessarily understand what may await us beyond, and what wonders we will have that make this all worth it.

    If you don’t think anything is beyond this life, then of course this doesn’t apply to you, and this often cruel life is all you have. And then so what? Either your life was super, or it sucked, or even was in between. When it’s over, then it’s over, and none of it mattered.

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