I think part of the issue is the definition of prayer (and how it has replaced the word “condolence” in modern language). It’s very easy to say “pray for this or that,” and it makes you look all spiritual in doing so. But how many people who say they’re offering prayers REALLY are doing so?
And what are they praying for? Dear God (or whatever higher being you hope might be listening), please give me what I am asking for? And is that all that’s going on? “Give me this please,” CLICK. That’s the secular take on prayer – the Genie in the Sky who only answers those who win the lottery.
In “Conan The Barbarian,” the titular character prays to a god named Crumb, asking for victory in a battle. He ends this prayer with the words, “If you do not grant me this request, then TO HELL WITH YOU!” And that’s where we as a society are today. God give me this. No? Then I hate you. Kinda sounds like my four year old when I won’t let him have another candy cane off the tree.
Instead, let’s look at what prayer is truly intended as and for – an open (and ongoing) communication with God. Makes not just your wishes known, but your gratitude, and be listening for that still small voice. It’s a two-way street.
The other issue is pure and simple – no one comes to the Father except through the Son. All these people say “I’m praying,” may say “God help us” under their breath, and move along with their day, feeling as if they earned their prayer badge for the day. Only the Bible says that empty, thoughtless prayers are NOT heard by the Master. It is ONLY through the Son, Christ Jesus, that prayers are heard.
And this is the concept that runs people the wrong way. They want their spiritual godmother to grant them requests, but don’t have the faith to back it up. They’re calling a wrong number then getting mad when no one answers.
So in a way, the NYDN is right. God is NOT fixing this, but it’s not because prayer in itself is ineffective. It’s because the prayers being offered are empty, hollow requests with no faith behind them (if they are offered at all….just because you tweet it doesn’t mean you do it).
Am I opening myself up to ridicule? I’m sure I am. Will there be counterpoint comments from folks claiming that I am 100% wrong? I’m certain there will be. But you know what? I don’t care. Unlike those who pray with hashtags and nothing else, I AM praying. And that prayer is, “Even so, Lord Jesus, come”…..