Prayer Common Sense

An Ex-Minister's Perspective

 Brian Worley


Prayer can tell you a lot about a man. Is he lazy, greedy, needy, obedient or arrogant? Prayer also says a lot about a man’s thoughts on the divine. Does he truly believe his public profession or does he secretly betray it? 

The despair of need can drive a person to their knees. Prayer is the ultimate "truth serum" that cuts through all of the lies and self-deceptions we peddle. Confession here, I believe in prayer and by no means do I want to denigrate it. It’s just that I find it a haven of poker-faced showmen living a charade and a few that want to throw a pious parade for the cause.

Atheist Prayer Dilemma & Humility  

For example, if one concludes that there is no divine, it would be absurd for them to consider prayer as an option. True atheists just don’t pray. Suppose an atheist with great need has exhausted all of his known earthly options except one, …prayer. Hypocrisy would be exposed if the atheist’s need should drive them into uttering a prayer; it would be arrogant for that person not to adjust their public stance upon the divine in light of this. 

Prayer expresses an attitude of humility, that one isn’t super human and that you don’t possess all of the answers in life. It is refreshing to see expressions of humility; it is the direct opposite of arrogance. 

You can’t call yourself an atheist if you pray or have prayed as an atheist. Its impossible to accurately measure atheism unless the following question is asked, “have you prayed after identifying yourself as an atheist?” It’s hard to fathom the character of a man that has the gall to openly claim atheism all the while knowing that prayer is an option or outlet when no one’s watching. 

Needy - Greedy Prayer 

“God give us health and love, we can buy all the rest” – Jewish Proverb 

Being human means that we all face vulnerability and will have needs. It just seems right that we should embrace this reality rather than cowering from confronting dreaded challenges that we daily face. I love the humility of prayer, but have a problem with prayer being a refuge of cowards. 

Like it or not, social Darwinism is a reality that I wished weren’t as matter of the fact brutal as it is. I’m sure that I am not alone with this thought, but it just doesn’t seem right that a man too lazy to prepare or work has the audacity to ask for something they are unwilling to work for. Sure they have need…I just see them as greedy trying to snatch something they don’t deserve that is beyond their reach. 

Obedient Prayer (Welcome to the world of Christian Atheism)

 Jesus’ upon prayer in Matthew 6:6

“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray”  

This writer is not a Christian. I don’t believe that Jesus was divine. I do believe he is scarcely historical and that the legend grew after his death. It is not my intention to inflame or disrespect believers, but I believe Jesus would be "rolling in his grave" if he were to see what takes place today under his name.   

I had a problem with prayer as a Christian minister, when taken public it was clear disobedience to what Jesus taught.  Prayer was miscast, rather than being a means to God's "ear" it often was an "honorarium event" meant for strategic purposes. While some would relish the opportunity, one couldn't help but notice the fear and "preacher don't pick me" body language when it was time to choose who was going to deliver the next prayer. Prayer in public shouldn't be a "performance to impress or manipulate" those listening; simply put, prayer is not for public consumption, it is a private affair that has no business in public life.   

There is nothing difficult about the exegesis of prayer. Question, does the church not trust Jesus or do they simply think he was lying about his intentions concerning prayer? The church is awash in Christian atheism! 

Cannot Christians discern simple instructions? Why stir up so many problems and head to court over your "right" to practice unscriptural prayer? 

Whatever happened to common sense? This essay presumes that there is something that is beyond mortal man that defies human comprehension which we are unable to define. I find it strange that Christianity defies their revelation about prayer while some atheists practice secret prayer.

Whatever happened to pragmatism? I don’t understand how a loving spouse’s dogmatism could be so certain as to rule out prayer to alleviate or reduce a loved one’s suffering. God hasn’t been disproved, yet how can someone look into the eyes of that loved one and say I refuse to consider prayer as an option and would rather watch him or her die than to utter a prayer? That’s being a bit too obtuse. I’d hate to have to live with the thought that I watched a loved one die having withheld an untried option that was left upon the table due to pride. Try burying that one!   

Prayer isn't a silly practice

There is something so freeing, so liberating being in the position of an unbiased former minister looking at the secular/ religious activities transpiring in our world. No, I am not against prayer and as a deist I experiment and respectfully practice prayer. I will go on record and state that my wife and I have had a significant prayer answered recently in our lives concerning our daughter. I’ll take a page from Jesus’ idea on prayer and keep it private. The prayer wasn’t to Jesus; it was to God that I believe should be acknowledged…not asserted as if one could have a personal relationship with or to profess to actually know something about. 

There is so much hyperbole within prayer; it stems from theists with a revelation (Christianity).My vantage point as an ex-minister isn’t to ridicule the practice, as it is to point out that society would progress if we could recognize a work of literature and rightfully distinguish it from a “truth” from an ancient tribal god. I think religion has its place in society and would be much better served if a dose of reality prevailed and the clergy properly communicated those unrealistic expectations/promises of prayer as literature. 

For religion to be a force for good it needs to free itself from unrealistic, unreachable prayer expectations that serve to dash peoples hope. Religion should inspire, not exaggerate.

Brian Worley     March 9, 2012    All rights reserved  


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