Why I Won't Pray For You (and what I will do instead)

Let me start by saying right away that you may be offended by the beginning of this post.  You won't like it. I'm sure it will make you angry.  That's fine, but before you decide to vent your anger back at me, please read the entire post.  You may not think I'm such a bad person after this is finished.  My purpose is to bring hope and cooperation.

With so many tragedies happening across the country right now, many friends have requested I pray for them, or else pray for others who may be suffering.  That's all you want me to do - pray.  You want me to ask a deity - and I'm sure you mean the deity you personally worship - to do something for you.  I suppose it's an easy way for me to respond to your problems.  I pray for God (or gods) to help you. Better God than me, right?

Let's say I decide to help you by praying.  How do I go about doing that?  I go to a quiet place where I won't be interrupted.  It might be my home and it might be a church.  Maybe it's my car or just a quiet time at my desk at work.  Here I silently ask God to help you.  It takes me just a few seconds.  It doesn't inconvenience me at all.  It hardly requires any thought or effort.  It's done and I have done my duty.  I have prayed for you and now it's up to God to help you.

At this point you're sneering at me a bit.  You are probably downright angry.  "We get it, Rachel.  You don't believe in God.  You are just being contemptuous of my religion and I don't like it."

What I do or don't believe in, and why I don't believe  (and those subjects deserve posts of their own) are irrelevant.  Even if I did believe, I would hope I could do better than prayer.  Prayer is something that's between me and the gods of my choice.  I feel I need to involve the person I'm praying for a bit more directly.

I also find this idea of group prayer to be somewhat disturbing.  If you take up an issue with God and pray about it, a loving God should want to help you because He wants to help you.  This shouldn't be some kind of numbers game.  Does God say, "I don't want to help you when you pray to Me for that.  Wait!  There are other people praying for you too.  I think I will change my mind."

What happens if my prayers are ineffective.  What if God or gods has a different plan that doesn't include helping you the way you requested.  What then?

If you are hurt, if you are in trouble, if you are sick, if you are grieving, if you are distressed, then there is so much more I want to do for you.  Prayer is just a few seconds of my private time.  If you are someone I care about, then you deserve much more than me giving you a few thoughts separately from you.

What will I do for you instead of pray?

I will give you my company.  I will provide hugs and a shoulder to cry on.  I don't want you going through troubled times in isolation.  I will spend real time with you, talking to you either by visiting in person if I can, phone calls, or emails.

I will help you with chores or errands.

I will cook meals for you or bake you a batch (or batches) of your favorite cookies or cakes or pies.

I will do volunteer work if I can.

I will donate money. I will donate to a relevant charity for disaster relief.  I will donate to your GoFundMe.  If we are close I may provide you with direct financial support if I am able to.

All you have to do is ask.

But that's the crux of it, isn't it?  If you need help, will you ask?  If I offer help, will you accept?
If I'm not offering, why aren't you asking?

To me this shows just how isolated we have become from each other.  We say we don't have time.  We say we are busy.   We sit in front of our computer screens, complaining endlessly on social media about how stressed out our lives are.  Then one day we run across a friend in need and she says, "Pray for me," and we respond, "Sure, I'll pray for you," and the transaction ends.  Prayer is said and we go on with our lives, hoping God heard and will fix whatever the problem is.  We feel smug about our good intentions, but what are we really doing for each other?  Platitudes and prayers on social media have replaced meaningful human contact.

We are afraid to reach out and ask for help because our loved ones are all too "busy" complaining about their lives on social media.  We don't say what we really need.  We don't offer more help because our friends and family aren't reaching out.  Ask for a prayer.  Say a prayer.  Let something else sort it out.

Can't we do better than this?  If you're going to go to church, don't just pray.  Volunteer in that church's disaster relief efforts.  Visit your friends and family.  Call up a loved on to check on him.  Send whatever donations you can.

I'm not just going to sit on my butt and pray.  God may have another agenda other than answering my prayers.  If I want to make a difference in the world, it's up to me.


Popular posts from this blog

You Bring the Celebration Where It Needs to Be

Random Thoughts