Monday, May 02, 2005

The Power of Prayer?

Can someone please explain prayer to me. I mean does it really work? I came home at lunch today and there was a message on the machine for Debby from someone in her prayer chain. Apparently someone is having surgery after an accident with a car door and the caller was telling Debby to pray for her. From previous experience I believe Debby is supposed to call the next person in the chain. And so on. Got it so far?

Now I try to be respectful of other people's ways, especially when I am married to them and they read my blog, but come on! Do people actually think this works? I mean puh-leeeeeeeeeeeeeeease. Why not just pray for nothing bad to happen in the first place thus alleviating the need for praying for a successful surgery and recovery. I realize that I am cynic and have no faith in higher beings et al. so of course I am skeptical. But it is hard to believe (hence no faith) that this prayer chain produces tangible results. Ironically, look at how stung the people in Duluth, GA feel about the runaway bride who prayed that she only got cold feet and was not abducted. After their prayers were "answered" they felt let down that she faked her disappearance in the manner that she did. But they had prayed for it. What's that saying, be careful what you wish for...because you might get it.

I understand that faith in something greater than us mere mortals is a huge part of people's beings. It is the essence that guides them and how they live It adds value and meaning to their lives. Again I respect that it is important to many people including my wife. And I can see that having something to hang on to keeps people from feeling desperate and giving up and in that I agree that there is a tangible benefit. But if Debby were to break the chain because I deleted the message (I did not) or because she did not call the next person in the chain (which she forgot to do the last time she got a call), is the outcome really going to be impacted one way or another? These are the kinds of things I ponder having married into such a practicing Chrisitian family. I love them all and respect their beliefs, but I really struggle with some of their rituals.

The best thing for me that I have ever heard on this subject was from the classic TV series M*A*S*H. In one particular episode, a wounded GI tells the doctors that he is Jesus Christ, the actual savior. He is so true to this belief that a psychiatrist is brought in to examine him. The defining moment for me is when the wounded soldier is being interviewed and is asked, "is it true that God answers all prayers?" GI Jesus Christ replies, "Yes, but sometimes the answer is no." Maybe that's just the way it goes.....