Does prayer work?

My mother sent me this article a few days ago..

Prayer Shaming and San Bernadino: Choosing Policy Over God

“Prayer, it seems, is no longer a politically acceptable response to tragedy. Instead, we’re being told to put our trust in something else.”

Ugh. This article sounds like a whiny baby wrote it. I feel exasperated writing this. Why are we all fighting? Religion against religion, non-believers against religion, science against religion (this isn’t making a good case for religion, is it?)? When will it end? Why can’t we all learn from each other and realize that we can have both faith and science, both heart and intellect? Why can’t we learn that one doesn’t weaken the other?

Do I believe in the power of prayer? Yes, I do. I pray so that I can have a moment of silence within the busy-ness of life. I pray because sometimes I just feel too small to handle everything in this world. I pray because I believe that there is a consciousness greater than mine, greater than the whole of humanity that, if we all trusted in it even a tiny bit more, something amazing would emerge.

BUT, and this is one gigantic BUT.

God is not a scapegoat. You have a responsibility. Prayer is an interaction with that divine force in whatever way you perceive It. Interaction, meaning you have to do something. 

As Teresa of Avila wrote:

“Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which to look out
Christ’s compassion to the world
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about
doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.”

There is a reason that people are calling out so-called Christian politicians who refuse to take action against the senseless lack of gun control, as if their prayers for victims’ families will somehow make up for the pain and trauma they’re experiencing, when in actuality maybe – just, maybe – something like, oh, I don’t know, gun control laws, better mental healthcare, a national culture that doesn’t glorify war and violence, could have prevented it in the first place. The NY Daily News headlines didn’t occur in a vacuum. This isn’t anti-faith rhetoric sneaking into the media. “God isn’t fixing this” is a very real and very understandable outcry from grieving, frightened, and fed-up nation. When I read this prayer shaming article, I ask where’s the compassion that I would expect from someone who claims to base their worldview upon the teachings of someone who embodied loving kindness? What I see instead is a need to be right, at the expense of differing perspectives.

Furthermore, what’s with this whole faith vs. science thing? Let’s read some wisdom from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from his sermon, A Tough Mind and  Tender Heart:

“There may be a conflict between softminded religionists and toughminded scientists, but not between science and religion. Their respective worlds are different and their methods are dissimilar. Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary. Science keeps religion from sinking into the valley of crippling irrationalism and paralyzing obscurantism. Religion prevents science from falling into the marsh of obsolete materialism and moral nihilism.”

Do I believe in the power of prayer? Yes, I do – but there’s more to the story. Prayer isn’t a magic wand. God gave me eyes and ears and mouths and brains for a reason. Mostly, I pray to listen for my calling in the world and for guidance on how to put that calling into action.



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