Yeah…not so much ^.
Anyone who is online much, knows how often people put up stories of others in peril, whether they be animal or human, countries or causes. Many times, the poster writes asking for prayers, or, if not, they are offered in reply after reply.
I don’t have a problem with prayer, per se, as I meditate, and consider prayer a form of that, even though they’re talking to nobody. But, it does cause people to be quiet and focus, and no matter how it occurs, I think we can all agree that in a world with too much noise, and far too much in terms of stimulus, time for reflection, no matter how one couches it, is important and rare.
Where prayer and meditation part ways, however, is that, many times, people who pray have such an overwhelming conviction that their requests are being heard by the man in the sky, that they honestly feel that no more action need be taken.
As atheists, we know nothing could be further from the truth. Whether meditation is part of our lives or not, we know that if there is a problem, wishing and hoping simply won’t solve it. Instead, action, often after brainstorming, is the only hope for things to change or improve.
We know that whether or not we pray for God to guide the hands of a surgeon, the outcome of an operation will be the same. For believers, a good outcome means that God heard everyone’s prayers. A bad one means God chose to call that faithful person home to Heaven.
I feel that this is a way for we puny humans, who are clearly microscopic in the scope of the universe, as we hurtle through space on just one tiny planet among countless others, to feel as if they have control over things they do not. Prayers will not shrink a brain tumor. Prayers will not save an accident victim. What hope do we have of actually having control over those situations? Study, education, science and putting the time in. How can we end hunger? By feeding the hungry, not by wishing them fed. How can we heal the sick? By studying for ways to do so.
I don’t have a complaint about the act of prayer, if it calms and centers the person praying. What I DO have issue with is when prayer becomes an excuse for the faithful to allow bad things to continue to happen. In that sense, religion is sapping our resources, of mind, of labor, of donations, and more.
The popularity if the Power of Prayer really gathered steam in the 80s, with books and speaking tours, speeches from pulpits. From that, the Culture of Prayer has overstated the mystical side without reminding the faithful that action is part and parcel of the prayer/meditation process. But by admitting that actions are the child of the prayer process, faith leaders would have to admit, at least in some small way, that God will not swoop down with a magic wand and solve it all for us. That diminishes His power, which cannot happen.
This is not to say that many of the faithful don’t have a history of good works. But, how many times has prayer been offered up as the alpha and omega of the process of helping? If even once, it’s too much. But I suspect, given how many times I see prayers offered instead of donations for an animal needing expensive veterinary care online, given how many times I see prayers offered instead of shifts filled to feed the hungry, or prayers offered instead of taking a child to a hospital (Google faith healing deaths), then I must protest. Your good intentions are just that, intentions. They don’t stop wars, they don’t fill bellies, and they certainly will never, ever cure cancer.
Pray if it makes you feel better, but then get up off your knees and do something.