As I watch the 1/6 hearing with its many right(sic)-wing heads bowed in prayer, I find myself with one unavoidable question-
“What are those monsters praying for?”
Please, can someone try to explain to me the purpose of prayer among so very many contemporaries calling themselves Christians? Not so much the purpose as proposed in the Bible, or as observed by true followers of the teachings of Jesus. My question concerns prayer as practiced today among those claiming to embrace Christian beliefs, yet showing no indication of any awareness that Jesus even existed. I was born and raised in the Southern Baptist Church beginning more than 60 years ago, and one of numerous reasons I left a bit more than a decade later was questions I had about prayer. This week, as I watch so many in the GQP offer prayers up to heaven, I find more, newer questions arising.
Our motto as Americans is, “In God we Trust”, yet clearly so very many of us have so little trust that we all too often feel it to be necessary to tell “our” God what we expect in the form of the requests, orders and commands known as prayer. (However, if we do not genuinely “trust in God” so deeply and profoundly, why would we print it on so much of our earthly currency?)
We hear these so-called Christians frequently speak of “faith”, yet clearly all too often they have little or none, instead having selfish interests that they feel God to be completely unable to see through as they use prayer in an attempt to “con” God into fulfilling their petty desires and urges. Instead of determining the greater good for a creation so much larger than they as to defy any and all comparison, individually each of them comes first and foremost. Is such ultimate selfishness still considered to be prayer? Or is that simply considered (at least by white American evangelicals) to be the thing now most known as prayer?
Why would an omniscient, omnipotent God need selfish and hate-filled input to determine what actions to take, who to condemn to the eternal fires of hell, and who to punish on Earth for violating what a man determines to be “God’s rules” for any particular day, or based on the most recent Fox News broadcast? Is it the number of prayers that matters, with prayers the equivalent of clicks? Perhaps the volume with which they are spoken? It certainly cannot be the sincerity, since clearly there is little if any sincerity among that brand of hypocrite, except perhaps the sincere greed and sincere self-obsession in their prayers. Why would they pray to their chosen God to ignore their own Bible, and in fact the teachings of their own “son”, Jesus, if not from belief only in their own interests? I can only hope that other than those just like themselves, no one is fooled.
Least of all God.
I was once told by a Christian that, “If climate change is real, God will take care of it.” Yet bizarrely, the “Christian” response to abortion rights is NOT to trust in God to that same absolutist degree, but rather to “reverse 6th commandment” abortion doctors. Though a solution about as far from trust in God or faith as can be imagined (and which solves nothing), murder has become a Christian norm re-invigorated for modern times by white evangelicals and the GQP.
So I suppose God had best get used to it.
Every time someone tells me to, “Have a blessed day”, which is unquestionably a non-negotiable prayer imposed upon a non-consenting stranger, (touch my non-consenting body, go to jail. Touch my immortal soul? NP!) I can’t but wonder why they feel their God to be totally incapable of making the determination of something as simple as what sort of day I should have. At least, unlike republicans at the 1/6 hearings (and in general), there may be kindness intended behind this prayer. (But what if God has already cursed me with a deservedly terrible day? Is God’s action meant to be discarded over the sudden whim of an attention-seeking human checking receipts at a Walmart exit?) But if this blessing were indeed based on a kind wish, why speak it aloud? It seems more the reality that they believe themselves to be gods, or at least to some small degree, in considering the balance of the cosmos and deciding in which direction that balance is to be tilted.
As if being God is comparable to a butcher with his thumb on the scale.
Had prayer actually been banned from public schools, then I can see an opportunity for God to work their wonders, just as logic strongly points toward being the ideal: “Finally! God can act independently of man’s selfish wishes and hate-filled desires in one place in America! Its public schools!” But of course prayer was never prohibited. The only thing prohibited was exclusionary, public displays of prayer: the very thing the Bible says to avoid at all cost. Yet this seems not to suit a great many of those claiming to trust in God, those who instead insist that man always be in the position of choosing the best God, of speaking for God, of replacing God, indeed of being God in every public school in America. (And of course, in the very churches where they pull “God’s trigger” on abortion doctors.)
What possible use do so many of today’s white evangelical Christians make of prayer except to say, “God, you have NO idea what you should be doing with your omnipotence and omniscience, so we will tell you! We will set you straight! We know such things, as you obviously do not: sin de jour, cash salvation, Jesus as white conservative, the Bible in English as God wrote it, and your second and best son, Lord Trump! And we’ve just begun correcting and updating your rules concerning gays, Blacks, Mexicans, Muslims and Hillary’s email!”
Perhaps I’ve not been entirely fair or accurate. I am able to think of one prayer that seems at first glance to be neither hurtful nor hypocritical: “God, please allow me to grow in wisdom, and in understanding and compassion toward all others, no matter the cost to me.” Perhaps this is the only prayer currently being prayed by the many millions of white American evangelicals responsible for placing Donald Trump in the position as president that has allowed him to come so close to destroying all semblance of American democracy, and has caused immeasurable suffering and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents (and more every day) through disease and hate-fueled violence. Perhaps I am being unfair in presuming otherwise, and through their prayers they express only the love in their hearts.
I certainly pray that is the case.