(I know I cycle back to this subject now and again, but after the latest “Pray for Them” post, I’ve got to ask more questions!)
Open Letter to my friends and colleagues, and anyone who prays.
Sorry if this is uncomfortable, but I have to ask why you pray and ask others to pray.
Every time there’s a shooting or other tragedy, I hear people say,
“Pray for _______________________”
Would you please explain how this helps, or how it really does anything?
“Pray for Parkland”
“Pray for Sutherland”
“Pray for Tree of Life”
“Pray for Christchurch”
“Pray for Gilroy”
“Pray for El Paso”
“Pray for Dayton”
“Pray for Refugees”
And on and on.
Seriously, could you please explain?
We might all agree that “Thoughts and Prayers” is silly, senseless and useless, but how is “Pray for Them” any different?
I hear this from conservative and liberal, evangelical and progressive, so I’d like to understand.
If the intent is to remind people to think about a tragedy and the people involved, or to show they care or have compassion, why not just say that? I still don’t see why saying “Pray for Them” is helpful.
If the intent is to let us know that YOU are praying for these folks, why is that important to you? Is it a statement of how much faith you personally have?
I’m not putting you down, I really would like to hear the reasons.
In case you didn’t know, I prayed for years, in every form of prayer you can imagine. I prayed and prayed until I stopped to think about it, about what I was doing.
“Lord, please be with them,” “God, help them” and much much more.
I had to ask myself:
1-Why would God need me to ask/plead Him/Her to do what God should already know about and should be doing something about since S/He was God, after all? (we always called God the Almighty who could do anything anytime)
2-Prayer was really for myself, so why is it that I need it so much? (talking to God was one thing, but the purpose always eluded me. A “relationship”? Seemed so one-sided)
3-My prayers didn’t seem to bring any results. (I read that Jesus told us to pray in secret and that we would receive ANYTHING we asked for in his name. Never worked for me or others I prayed for. Lack of Big Faith? It just “wasn’t His will” to help or heal?)
That’s just me, but I’m wondering what others think.
Just reading “Dear God, Are You There?” (& replies) from NYT, and surprised to see Eli Wiesel described as believing in God, googling I ran across his interview on On Being in 2003. Powerful conversation ends with an exchange on prayer and his saying —
“….as I said earlier, then I went back to prayer. Again, remember that — what is prayer? You take words, everyday words, and all of a sudden they became holy. Why? Because there is something that separates one word from another and then you try to fill the vacuum. With what? With whom? With what memory? With what aspiration? So when words bring you closer to the prisoner in his cell, to the patient who is dying on his bed alone, to the starving child, then it’s a prayer.”
Ah, yes, leave it to Wiesel to bring a depth of meaning to this! One day, perhaps, we won’t need to use the word “prayer” any longer. Maybe a deep breath is enough? Thanks.