December 4, 2015
I pray frequently.
I don’t typically talk about it the way some do. I tend to keep my prayers to myself in large part because of my father, who was a very thoughtful religious man that worked to raise his children with faith. In teaching the power of prayer, he pointed to Matthew 6:5 and the admonition to avoid the hypocrisy of praying in a way to be seen. I’ve always felt that the admonition applies to bragging about how much I’m praying, suggesting I’m holier than everyone else because I’m praying and implying that I don’t have to do anything so long as I’m praying.
The current hot discussion related to prayer and the numerous gun tragedies upsets me. It feels like some are using prayer as a weapon. They use the weapon to dismiss those who are calling for more human action to stop gun violence. The suggestion is that those seeking action are not faithful enough. It seems also to be a way to deflect the calls for human interventions and suggest there’s not a need for such action.
We all know the story of a man stuck on his roof during a big flood. He prays for a miracle to save him. A neighbor rows by in a boat and urges him to get in. But, he says, “No. I’ve prayed and believe I’ll be taken care of.”
The water continues to rise as he prays again. Another boat comes up and he says he’ll stay because he believes God will save him. Then a helicopter drops a ladder to him. He says, “No. My prayers will be answered and God will show me a miracle.”
He dies. And when he gets to heaven he’s miffed. He tells St. Peter that he’d been praying for relief and got nothing. St. Peter replied, “I don’t know what you’re whining about. We sent two boats and a helicopter.”
Maybe we’re getting answers to all of these prayers about gun violence.
Maybe the answer is we need to act.