Praying and Other Deep Thoughts
Ok, let's see if I understand this correctly:
Some of us of the "homo sapiens" species believe in a higher power, a creator, an omnipotent, omniscient being. Within this group of believers, some feel very strongly about this force that originated the universe. Some even believe that She or He (even though it is almost universally understood that a Supreme Being does not have a gender per se, as we know it) is personally involved with our every thought, deed, feeling.
I, for one, personally know many human beings who have a very personal relationship with our Creator. And I'm not talking about people of the cloth here, just regular, everyday people. Some of these are PhD's, some are not formally educated, there are all types from all walks of life.
My mother, for example, is an extremely religious person who firmly and without question, unwaveringly , believes in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. She believes in the Blessed Mother and all the saints and martyrs of the Roman Catholic Church. She is devout and has never, EVER, questioned anything. At least not in front of me. I kind of envy that kind of belief and faith.
We have a friend, a pastor of a church, an upright, wonderful person who is also utterly convinced of the constant existence and benevolent attention of God upon all of us. We have had our conversations and peaceful discussions on faith, belief, etc. and I can vouch for the fact that he is one hundred and ten percent sure that the Omnipotent One exists and loves each and every one of us. In a personal way, as a parent loves His or Her child.
On the other hand, I am problematic. How did I turn out this way? It's not that I don't believe in a Supreme Being. I kind of do. But I have to be honest, I view anyone's idea of Him/Her with a bit of suspicion. You may ask "Why?" And I would reply: "Because everyone views God differently." Three people are looking at the same beautiful sunset and each one is thinking/feeling/remembering/being affected differently. The sunset is there, and it is the same for the three, but does not mean the same to each one. The first person may be just admiring the combination of colors in the sky. The second may be recalling a romantic event with a loved one. The third may be just looking but thinking "I need to get gas for the car and pick up a gallon of milk after this..." Nobody views anything the same way.
And I have to confess that when I meet someone that doesn't seem to have any doubts, it freaks me out. Maybe because I have so many? Maybe because I have not been able to establish a personal relationship with my Maker? Could it be that I am not a person of "faith"? Even though I would like to be? It is possible that I am way too conscious and even familiar with the many tricks used by all kinds of denominations to get people to believe in them? Does that even make sense?
We are all searching for meaning (shamelessly quoting Viktor Frankl, one of my most beloved philosophers), and meaning will never take the same form for you as it will for me.
Now that we have that preamble about the Supreme Being, let's go a bit further. Ok, let's say that I believe in a all-powerful, all-knowing, loving God who is personally involved with each individual on Earth (and in other parts of the Universe, if they exist). We (humans) are His/Her sons and daughters and he loves us and watches over us. I am not even going to touch the probleme of the existence of evil. My question is this:
How does prayer fit in? If we believe in a benevolent, loving God who views us as Her/His children, then whatever good or bad happens to us is for a reason, right? What purpose does prayer serve? If, let's say, my car starts making a noise and seems to be on the brink of breaking down (which it probably is), and God (who is all-knowing) sees this, well...if I say a prayer to Him/Her to please not let my car break down today of all days when I have to get to work super-early because I have a meeting at.... you get the drift.... What is the good of that? If just the fact that I appeal to Him/Her for my car not to break down, if that does the trick, then wouldn't that make this Creator kind of a shallow, conceited being? What about people who REALLY need help? People who are seriously sick, or in pain, or who have lost someone they love or....SERIOUS stuff. Is our Creator waiting for them to pray in order to help them out? What is the value system She/He uses?
I am not being flippant here, folks. I know that my faithful followers (I believe they are down to two, maybe three now) know that I like to write funny posts. Or they may just seem funny to me. But this is totally serious here.
I once told a friend who was leaving on a long drive home very late at night, "Be careful." And she replied, "I don't have to be careful. I know the Lord is watching out for me." I was flabbergasted. Why would He (in this case there was no gender doubt) watch over her exclusively while letting other people get mugged, raped, held up, arrested by cops, exposed to Bigfoot? (Ok that last reference to Bigfoot was a bit of comic relief) And while all these people are suffering, He is going to individually save YOU from any kind of problem? Why would He do that? What is so special about you that He would save you but not me? Or him? Or her? Ya know? And if the Lord was like that, that He would arbitrarily watch over someone tenderly while completely blanking out on watching/helping/saving anyone else, well... I just would not like Her/Him. So I can't think She/He is like that.
And furthermore, if He/She was to come to someone's aid bending the rules of Nature or whatever, just because a prayer was said or because someone beseeched Him/Her. The same applies. It would be that S/He pays attention to whiney, loud, selfish, self-promoters and ignores those of us who either are not sure what to do or what works, or are still in debate about a Supreme Being in the first place.
There are many, many people who believe in "The Power of Prayer." For me, it is a beautiful concept but one that does not seem logical. If I REALLY concentrate on praying that something works out the way I want it to work, then if I have made sufficient effort, The Creator will reward me and grant me what I wish. Really? If you were the Supreme Being, would you like it if the same people were always praying so that you would grant them stuff? No matter how hard they concentrated and prayed, wouldn't it seem just a tad bit selfish that they only prayed for themselves or for a select group of friends? The way I see God is that S/He would be offended by prayer unless it was offered up for everyone and anyone on this Earth who needed help, who was hurting, suffering, crying. Anyone and everyone.... or no one.