Sunday, May 22, 2011
The Power of Prayer (Chapter II) ::The Great Call Center in the Sky
Sunday worship services in my little hometown church always concluded with an alter call. As a restless youngster trying to survive a 2 hour long Sunday service this was an exciting time. At the very least I knew it was almost time to leave. Alter calls are open invitations to anyone to come forth and pray. Although everyone in church was standing with all heads bowed and eyes closed;Some prayed while standing from their pew,others went forth to pray as well. From time to time my curiosity in my youth would take over and I would sneak a peek to who went forth to pray. On any given Sunday in a small town church such as ours there would be at least a dozen or so saying prayers. As a youngster,around 7 or 8 years old, I thought: How could God hear everyone praying to him at the same time. It seemed like that would be confusing. Now,It never dawned on me that in this moment,a few miles up the road,there was another church conducting the same ritual. Well, come to think of it there were a few hundred churches in our county alone. I have to assume thousands of churches in our state. How many churches are in this country? You mean to tell me that God hears every single one of these prayers individually? And how many countless prayers does He hear simultaneously? Millions of Prayers! Perhaps billions around the world. All the while, we are calling on God at this very hour and I'm sure he is thinking..."Geeez! Don't these petty humans know it's my day of rest!" (That joke sponsored in part by George Carlin).
Ladies and gentlemen, I have to make a mental cartoon out of this bizarre belief. That is one big call center in the sky! Think about that. How many legions of angels are pulling prayer call duty in heaven right now? What kind of crummy job is that working the prayer phones all day. Surely angels never get a day off on Sunday. They perhaps pull overtime and double shifts to answer the needs of us humans.
"God, you have an emergency call on line 153,346,772! Lisa is trying to sell her house on line 13,295, and Jesus is on line 2!"
Last week I wrote about the idea of there being power IN prayer (which I believe exists).However I can't get on board this notion that there is power OF prayer. This power that gets results. This power that gets things done. Ask and ye shall receive. Prayer is being falsely represented in our society. The believer's claim that once I ask for something (healing,weather patterns,a raise)in the form of prayer then I can expect to see desired results. Well, not exactly.
Prayers go unanswered. Billions of them. And prayers "get answered"...billions more. It really is a 50/50 proposition. You either going to receive that raise you ask the Almighty for or you're not. The rain you pray for is going to happen or it's not. You praying over your child's illness doesn't help either. Your child will either recover (through natural selection) or he/she will not. Not one ounce of prayer will change the 50/50 ratio. Assuming your odds are 50/50. Praying for a stage 4 cancer patient will most likely give you a 1/xxxxx chance of getting that prayer answered.
Now if the believer has gotten this far in the reading there are normally two points they like to make. First, God's ways and understanding is much higher than ours. He is beyond our human comprehension regarding prayer and all other orders of business he conducts.Well...again...You can't have your cake and eat it to. You can't claim a personal relationship with a deity if IT is beyond all human understanding. You are assigning petty human emotions in God all the while saying its beyond us how He works his mysterious ways. Those claims are incompatible.
Secondly,regarding unanswered prayers,the believer uses the apologetic: "Well,It just wasn't God's will" "It's not part of God's plan"
Well if you pray and don't get results. Afterward, you claim it's not God's will,and God's going to do what he wants regardless your request. Why bother pray at all!?!? (Again,Thanks George Carlin)
Next week I will take the time to write about more on the specifics of some of the requests people pray for and try to create mental visuals to why their belief in the power of prayer is bizarre,irrational,and simply lacks reason and common sense.