I’ve done a fair share of praying in my lifetime. I have prayed to get girlfriends, to be healthy, to ease the pain of others, for world peace, for jobs, and everything else you can probably think of. I have prayed quick prayers, long prayers, prayers while I was alone, and prayers in groups. I’ve prayed prayers from the Bible and I’ve made up my own. In all my years of praying, have any of these prayers amounted to anything? Could I have ever said, “Look there! That is a direct result of my prayer.” NO. How would I ever know?
So with prayer, there is a big problem with knowing if prayer even works. A child gets deathly sick with cancer. One faction of people prays their lungs out for God to heal the child. Another faction invests all their time into medical and scientific recourses for action. A course is chosen, the child “miraculously” beats the cancer, and both sides claim responsibility. For every event that people pray and claim responsibility, there is always a competing “natural” explanation for the turn of events. How could one ever know that prayer and prayer alone was responsible for something? In short, one can’t.
But if you have been reading this so far and going along with my understanding of prayer, there’s an even bigger problem than the knowledge problem. That is the problem of hubris. “Hubris” means excessive pride or arrogance. If you are someone who prays, then you are an arrogant SOB. Yes, that is right. You think so highly of yourself that you need to seek help.
Why? Think about what prayer is supposed to mean. To pray to God for some action to happen on earth, you are in effect saying that you have the power to possibly change God’s mind. You believe that God SHOULD listen to you, take your concerns into ultimate consideration, then act on those concerns because your concerns trump all other considerations God has before God. What hubris! The nerve for you to think that you know better than God or that your plan is better than God’s. Why don’t you just let God be God and shut up? It would save you a lot time and face.
Taking prayer another way, we could also say that it is simply pointless because if God already knows all, God knows what is going to happen without error. Therefore, using prayer for change is pointless. If God already knows what is going to happen to the child with cancer, how would praying change anything? What will be, will be. Of course, God would already know that you were going to pray, but then this cycles back to the previous point of you being so arrogant to believe that you can change God’s mind with your prayers. What will be, will be, regardless of your prideful attempts to alter the outcome.
Of course, there are some prayers that are fine. Those prayers that are thanking God for something or praising God are just fine. It’s all you praying people that are asking God for something who need your heads checked.
This brings me to reparative therapy. This is now in the news because Michele Bachmann’s husband’s clinic practices this therapy. What is reparative therapy? It is praying over a “homosexual” person to try and “cure” that person of that homosexuality. The core belief behind this practice is that God made everyone, at base, a heterosexual, but that through perversion, some people have been infected with homosexual tendencies. Thus, Bachmann and folks pray that God will change this person back to being a heterosexual.
This is one of the most disgusting practices I have ever read about. First, we have the whole arrogance thing in that these praying people believe they have the inside track on changing God’s mind. They believe that they are important enough (Christian enough?) for God to listen to them and then act according to THEIR will. But second, they are performing one of the most (legal) degrading practices that can be performed on a person. They are saying, in effect, that this homosexual person is a total perversion before God, so much so that they need to enlist God’s help to change the person back to the accepted heterosexual lifestyle. And, if the prayer therapy doesn’t work, it means that not even God could change the pervert! Holy crap! That would make me so clinically depressed that who knows what I would do to myself.
When it comes to sexual identity, people have to be real careful when it comes to therapies. Any therapy that actually tries to change one’s sexual identity needs to be just eliminated. Reparative therapy needs to be burned at the stake. It is itself a gross perversion.
Prayer is either an exercise in arrogance or else it is just pointless. Reparative therapy is a prayer therapy that is delusional perversion which needs to stop immediately before it harms more people. Those are my conclusions.
(NB: I no longer pray FOR anything anymore.)