Being a man, it’s easy for me to imagine that I’ve got God-like qualities, at least when it comes to omnipotence and omniscience. Every evening I wield the TV remote control with amazing grace. What I will to appear on the screen does, and my ability to use the DISH Network’s “find” command is nothing short of miraculous (to those who don’t bother to read manuals, at least, a group that includes my wife).
So I feel qualified to speak for God: “It really irks my Divine Being when you humans pray to me. It’s just one demand after another. ‘Do this, don’t do that.’ Don’t you think that I know what needs to happen and what doesn’t need to happen? Hey, here’s a message from heaven to Earth: I’m God! You’re not! I’ll take care of my own business, and I’ll also take care of yours, whether or not you babble your useless prayers.”
Praying to a personal God is deeply irreverent, so long as the prayer is anything other than “thy will be done.” These are the only truly reverential words in the Christian “Lord’s Prayer.” Most of the rest of the prayer is a bunch of demands that contradicts these humble sentiments: Give us bread every day; forgive our trespasses; lead us not into temptation; deliver us from evil.
I feel God channeling through me again: “Jesus Christ almighty! Shut up with all the advice! I know what’s going on, everywhere, all the time. I created Creation, you know. And I damn well know how to run it now. Whenever I hear a so-called ‘believer’ blabbing on about what he or she wants me to do, I can tell that this person has no faith in me. On the other hand, I just love those who go with the flow and accept whatever happens as my will. Because, it is.”
Here’s an example of some Christian blasphemy, Chaplain Shackelford’s request for prayers that God will intervene in the upcoming Iraq elections. His unit, the 57th Transportation Battalion, will be delivering voting machines and ballots in Iraq. This is a worthy duty, no doubt. But encouraging people to pray for the electoral process is mixing prayer and politics in an unseemly worldly way.
Shackelford says, “This is a political battle that needs spiritual intervention.” Good lord. Someday, and I hope that day is not far away, statements like this will be viewed in the same fashion as, “This man’s fight against cancer needs a virgin sacrifice.”
Superstition and ignorance are steadily being replaced by knowledge of how things really work. But in the realm of religion, what Carl Sagan called “the demon-haunted world” all too often masks the real world of natural causes and effects that God has created.
If you want to pray, then pray for the eradication of prayer. Now, that’s a genuinely holy sentiment. Here’s what Meister Eckhart had to say on the subject:
Now I hear you ask: “How do I know that it is God’s will? My answer is that if it were not God’s will even for a moment, then it would not exist. Whatever is must be his will. If God’s will is pleasing to you, then whatever happens to you, or does not happen to you, will be heaven. Those who desire something other than God’s will get their just reward, for they are always in trouble and misery….They love God for the sake of something else which is not God. [such as a smooth-running election in Iraq]