Posted by on Apr 16, 2015 in In The News | 34 comments

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Cliché over-the-top melodramatic stock photo. (please see copyright note)

This brave young woman prayed for healing every day and you will never believe what happened next!

Absolutely nothing. (Actually, worse than nothing – her disease continued to worsen as she resisted the advice of her doctors and top surgeons before eventually going into a coma when her husband finally used his power of attorney to approve the once-simple-now-life-threatening surgery that took a team of doctors and nurses with decades of medical expertise 8 hours to eventually save her life – all so she could wake up and thank Jesus for answering her prayers and performing a miracle – just for her!)

Stop falling for sensationalized click-bait headlines, folks. We don’t make a penny off of headlines like this because we don’t have any ads on our site, but – we hope you get the point. At first this was all just going to be a spoof for the sake of shaming all of those sites (and consumers) that take part in click-bait spammy articles, but it got me thinking about prayer (again)…

Some might find it distasteful to use a fake example of an all too common personal tragedy to challenge the well documented power of prayer. Originally we were going to use the very real ongoing tragedy of the kidnapped Chibok girls, but felt it was “too close to home.” Actually, isn’t that the point, really – when can we have honest and relevant conversations about prayer? The Chibok kidnappings and subsequent reports of forced marriages, slavery, and murders have been going on for over a year now with no end in sight – despite the prayers of millions billions of people from all faiths. Say what you want about the corruption of the Nigerian government, but it doesn’t appear that Jesus has been making good on his promise in Matthew 21:22. Or is he?

This question leads me to acknowledge a very common Christian rationalization/justification about the effectiveness of prayer – this time from the very popular site, GotQuestions.org

“God has promised that, when we ask for things that are in accordance with His will for our lives, He will give us what we ask for (1 John 5:14–15)… When we talk to Him, He has promised to listen and respond (Matthew 6:6; Romans 8:26–27). His answer may be some variation of “yes” or “no” or “wait, not now.” Keep in mind that prayer is not our way of getting God to do what we want. Our prayers should be focused on things that honor and glorify God.”

Oh… so, apparently miraculously saving over 200 kidnapped Christian girls is not honoring or glorifying to God? Got it, thanks for clearing things up. Of course, there’s always the all-too-convenient “mysterious ways” get-out-of-jail-free card to be played anytime things don’t work out as we hoped… After all, God is God, right? Who are we to question God’s ways?!?! Let’s see what a few popular Christian memes say on the subject…

1

Dear Lord, Thank you for not leaving me alone. I mean, I am mostly alone now, just me and the screams of the other girls who are still alive. Sure, I miss my family and friends and freedom in general, but it is a great comfort to know that you are at least there… watching it all happen. Amen.

6

Dear Lord, Don’t get me wrong – I was really hoping to finish school to be the first young woman in my village to attend college in order to become a human rights lawyer. But – if you really want me chained to this bed,  let it be so. Thank you for revealing your amazing plans for me, Jesus. Amen.

2

Dear Lord, I dreamed of love and marriage and raising a happy family, but I shouldn’t have put my wants above your needs. I should not have made my captors force me to marry a man four times my age, I should have sensed and followed your amazing plan for me! I am sorry for not trusting you, Jesus. God Is Great! Amen.

Dear Lord,

Dear Lord, I have tried to be patient, but I am losing… What’s that? Oh, the Final Four? I totally understand – take your time, an all-powerful deity has to have His priorities, right? Whenever you get around to it, or not, whatever… Amen.

3

Dear Lord, I was trying so hard to get an education in order to make a difference for my family and bring new hope to my village. But, if you think I’m better off as a martyr, who am I to judge – I’m just a stupid little girl. May every strike of the whip bring you glory and honor, my Lord. Amen.

5

Dear Lord, I am so sorry for crying out yesterday. Sure, I miss my family and I’m still not used to the life of a child bride, but thank you for forgiving me for my doubts and revealing another day of your same plans for me! I am sorry for being so stubborn, but these days are not mine, they are yours – use me as you see fit, Lord. Amen.

4

Dear Lord, Some say silence is agreement. But I say your silence is music to my ears for it reminds me that this is all part of your masterpiece! I am merely an instrument in your symphony – just like the cymbal that gets hit with a stick – over and over and over. Let your will be done, let this be your finest hour, my Lord. Amen.

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Dear Lord, Yes, yes, yes! God is great! Amen

Such hope you can almost feel the love of God, right? Actually, these prayers (and lack of responses) might lead one to reflect on the Epicurean paradox…

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”

Are we making light of the ongoing Chibok tragedies? Absolutely not! Sadly though, many of the Christian commentaries I’ve seen over the last year on the subject are not far from the horrific satirical prayers I’ve posted above. In short, it’s pretty easy to talk big about the plans, powers, and miracles of God when you aren’t the 13 year-old bride held captive in the jungle. Unless you are willing to repeat one of these memes to their face and take their place, I just… Well, I can’t.

Whenever I need a little pick-me-up, I just turn to the musical stylings of Tim Minchin for a little inspiration. (Not to mention, it’s just a phenomenal live performance of a very complicated song.)

But seriously, when it comes to the power of the prayer, I do find it very troubling when faith-healing parents allow their children to suffer and die as a sign of their conviction and their trust of their Lord’s will (rather than giving them two damn Tylenol to break a simple fever to save their lives). Yet, they are still protected in many states under the guise of religious freedom exemptions. Likewise, I find it disrespectful for patients to ignore the truly amazing efforts and results at the hands of trained medical experts to instead turn their hands to heaven and thank God for their miraculous recovery.

Let’s just learn to give a little credit where it’s due and stop falling for sensationalized click-bait headlines! In short, both actions require us to… THINK! 😉

– Horus G.

P.S. No, seriously – watch the Tim Minchin clip above – it’s truly brilliant! (Yes, I have a total man crush…)

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*** APPARENTLY OBLIGATORY NOTICE *** Yes, I actually purchased the royalty-free stock image for online use – I just think it’s funnier to use the watermarked version to illustrate how transparently manipulative (and cheesy) click-baits really are…
Cliché image copyright: 123RF Stock Photo #calmdown

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