Prayer was never meant to be ‘useful’
When are we gonna give prayer a break? If something tragic happened, we mock it. When tragedy is avoided, we also mock it.
It’s common to hear people say, well, look at allthe shit hitting the fan all around the world, it should be ‘obvious that prayer is utterly useless, isn’t it? There’s simply no USE for prayer, is there?
But seriously, why pray at all in the first place?
Here’s the key error of folks who think that prayer is useless: Prayer was never primarily about being ‘useful’.
Do you see couples, family members and good friends talking, chatting and having a good time? Do they talk because it’s ‘useful’ or because, well, they love talking to each other? All of us sticking our noses into WhatsApp 26 hours a day — do we do so because it’s ‘useful’ or because it’s simply part of ‘how we live’?
Ditto with religious faith and prayer.
If you believe that the world offers evidence and hints of some ‘higher power’ or some Meta-Personal Being, or if you think your traditional religious faith is not just some big fat historical mistake, then prayer is part-and-parcel of what it means to exist in the world.
A person of faith would no more question the need and value of prayer than Gary Kasparov would question why chess includes a white and black bishop. To the religious mindset, life is about trusting in forces bigger than the world itself. To pray, therefore, is to be in communication and communion with said forces, asking for help, for strength, for general welfare, for a parking space, and so on.
Again, it’s like having a friend. The relationship alone justifies the talking. Period.
Then again, surely there was worse things to do than praying.
Some folks curse when the shit hits the fan — others pray. Some people go into a moody stupor when the going gets tough — other pray. Some others drink, vape and watch Downton Abbey re-runs in response to an existential crisis — others pray.
Even if prayer accomplishes nothing more than a reverent silence, isn’t that a good thing? If you’re in a plane that sounds like it’s being hit by a Sharknado, what the heck’s wrong with praying?
Prayer is FOC. It’s eco-friendly. It helps to promote mindfulness and is great for anger management. It’s a universal ‘human’ thing and resonates with faith-communities around the world.
And if that hot hunk/babe whom you’ve been trying to ask out says s/he’s praying for you, guess what: That’s not a bad sign.
Assume you happen to be walking alone down an alley and you see four ‘dodgy-looking’ guys coming your way. Would you or would you not feel better if you knew that they just spent the last hour praying for peace in the community?
Push comes to shove, perhaps the question should be turned around: Why don’t we pray more?