Prayer Lapel Pin?
I, for one, am tired of being told to pray for people.
Wait. Before you misunderstand me–I’m not against prayer. I really would like all beings to be free from suffering.
(Okay, sorry, that sounds Buddhist; let me broaden it.)
I really am not against–let me rephrase again–I am actively in favor of prayer: religious prayer, private prayer, meditative prayer, even group prayer (in a religious or quasi-religious setting, or as part of a shared ritual or genuine uprising of community emotion).
But I am getting really tired of political-speak prayer, tired of politicians asking or telling me about prayer.
One more backtrack--I don’t mean prayer in the midst of crisis especially the brief but heartfelt, “our thoughts and prayers.”) And I don’t mean prayer or other spiritual references by a political figure at a memorial service or a religious or quasi-religious event, such as President Obama at the memorial service for the Arizona victims.
Such references to scripture and prayer in such a setting and moment can offer true and appropriate solace, comfort, poetry.
(I don’t even have a problem with prayer breakfasts, if seeking wisdom and accompanied by, you know, marmalade.)
What I’m balking at are prayers, and calls for prayer, used as major portions of political speeches and commentary. (Okay, in order to be clear, I guess I’m talking about Palin here, and Beck, and others who seem to use prayer frequently to make political points.)
I am disturbed, in part, by the feeling that the God invoked is swayed by numbers–as if He or She makes decisions by petition, popularity contest, votes. This is a notion that I find insulting both of God and of those whose prayers are not somehow answered (i.e. lots of people, lots of times.)
Please, I really am not saying people or a politician shouldn’t pray for a loved one or stranger, for the country or the planet. But the ubiquitous political use of prayer in a non-spiritual and politicized setting diminishes its gravity; references to prayer begin to feel like a litmus test, a new form of flag pin, one more codeword.
I pray not. (Amen.)