July 22, 2014

Dear Christians:
I think praying is selfish, and it makes no sense to me.

Dear Christians,

Praying confuses me.

On the one hand, God has a plan. He knows everything that is going to happen. Presumably, He already knows whether you are going to get a job, whether your cancer treatments are going to work out, and any other myriad of prayer requests.

So I don't understand prayer requests like: "Pray for me! Job interview! Hope it goes well!"

God already knows you have a job interview. He already knows how you're going to perform. It's the paradox of free will: Yes, you can always make a choice but he already knows what that choice will be.

I will say, there are totally types of prayer that I understand: Praying for strength while undergoing medical treatment. Praying for guidance or understanding. These are things I can understand, because it is asking your deity to shape your experience--not change the world.

But even in the cases of these types of prayer, isn't it inherently selfish?

While you are undergoing a medical crises, for instance, in this developed nation, with access to healthcare, there are potentially millions that are suffering the same ailment, with no treatments, in less fortunate places. How then, do you justify even praying for strength? Hasn't God blessed you simply by letting you be born where you have been, in a place with pain killers, surgical options, etc, etc?

Isn't putting personal needs before the world around you inherently selfish?

I also find it weird when people say they will pray for you. Of course, to me, that means you'll sit and think really hard about my situation...but besides that, how does that help?

I do believe that people can do great good when they accept that they are their deity's hands and feet, as the saying goes--those that accept that simply praying isn't an action but must be coupled with actions. That makes more sense.

I find praying in public even more confusing.

Recently, the Supreme Court allowed for prayers to start town meetings. Fair enough, because they have also made space for invocations by those without belief and of different beliefs. No problem there.

What I don't get is the tenacity with which Christians will fight to be able to pray in public...when Jesus specifically says prayer is a private matter. Here's what Matthew 6:6 (NIV) says:
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Go into your room. Close the door. It's meant to be a private moment.

The verse before says:
When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.  
So, all in all, I don't understand it. With so much suffering in the world, praying for ourselves strikes me as selfish--and praying for them without being willing to minister to them, or support ministry, seems pointless.

I don't blame people for seeking quietness or allowing themselves to connect in that quietness to a feeling of something greater than themselves.

But I still can't say I really understand it.

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