Friday, January 25, 2013

Why do we pray?

For the longest time I have believed that prayer was essential to our daily existence.  I am not really talking about peaceful meditation or contemplation.  I am talking about intercession and requests.  I mean, really.

Whenever I saw an ambulance go by, or a car crash, or I heard of a child suffering. I would pray.  If someone was sick or having surgery, I would pray hard.  Why?

Because we are helpless. We all wish we had a magic wand to wave and make things right.  And, the problem I feel now, is that this sense of magic makers is encouraged by the Church. I have not just been a conservative Christian.  I was a Charismatic Catholic.  Not only did I have spiritual confidence of Charismatic spirituality, I had 2000 years of history of the Catholic Church which reports people levitating, not decaying when they die, raising people from the dead, healing the sick, fighting with spirits, going to hell and back and even..... BI-LOCATING. I mean, really.

Look, I do not blame myself. I was young.  I was hopeful. I wanted to believe so strongly!   I embraced every extreme reality taught by the Church.  It had the Church's seal of approval! The Deposit of Faith.

But for someone like me, and perhaps many more people, it became overwhelming. It was very hard to determine what was "spiritual attack" verses flawed character traits.  What was the result of a stupid choice and Satan toying with our family?

I literally saw and sought the hand of God in all things. That was, until I woke up.  Literally, my life became almost unmanageable with this light of faith.  I thought I had figured it out, God's call for my life!  This was definitely it.  The peace, the assurance, the good will, it was all there.  But, my choice was rejected. The door was shut. This was NOT God's will. Well then, what was this voice, this longing, this inner-peace?  Wishful thinking perhaps?

 I have a friend who is such a smart and sweet girl.  Her parents divorced and her mom raised them in Brooklyn, NY.  She got into trouble and did dumb things kids can do.  Her mother responded by telling her that she was possessed by the devil and going to hell. Does anyone else see a problem with this?  These are the kinds of things Catholic spirituality encourages.  Her mother, to be fair, was extreme and unstable. But, this spiritual war is specifically mainstream Catholic doctrine. So, how's one to know?

Back to prayer.  Why do we do it?  I think we want to have some sense of control over the uncontrollable.  There have been scientific studies done to see the result of prayer.

It reminds me of James Randi.  Ever heard of him?  He has made his career going around exposing fraud and con-artists.  Some interesting investigations I have seen involve healers and Christians.

James Randi exposes faith healer

I still am tempted to pray.  I still wished it worked.  But I've lost my faith.  At this point, I see it as goofy and unfounded in reality.

Do you really believe that you can telepathically send messages to an unseen God who can send warrior angels to effect change on a particular situation?  Do you see anything odd about this in regards to actual reality?


JoAnna Wahlund said...

No relationship can survive without good communication. How long do you think your marriage would last if you refused to talk to your husband? Or if you only talked to him when you wanted something from him?

Same goes with prayer. It's not a magic wand or a superstition. It's a furthering of our relationship with God, and with each other (which is why we pray for others). Jesus told us to pray for your enemies, because wishing good for them is how we love them.

Sometimes the answer to our prayer is "No" or "not now," and that can be hard. But in retrospect His plan often makes sense. Padre Pio likened it to a tapestry -- here on earth, we can only see the back side of it, with all the random crisscrossing threads, and it's not until we reach even that we will see how the threads unite in the whole glorious picture.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ashley,

As a cradle Catholic I can honestly say that it was only in the last year, via reading blogs, that I have become acquainted with the type of Catholicism you have been immersed in. I would be interested in reading more about your journey, specifically your conversion, college experience, decisions about motherhood (NFP & homeschooling), and developments beyond politics that you believe contributed to your loss of faith.
Growing up, my priest was from Ireland. In one of his homilies he told us about his brother. His brother was an atheist who had devoted his life to serving the poor. Our priest posed the question, "Will he go to hell because he has no faith?" He never answered the question, but even as a child, the answer I knew in my heart was NO! Jesus said, faith hope and love, but the greatest of these is love. To me, that is the radical message of the Gospel. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love your enemies. You seem to be doing this (judging by your writing against the wars in Asia). And know that no matter what you do, you will never be perfect because only God is perfect (this doesn't make you flawed, it just makes you not divine).

ashleyjeanlavana said...

Thanks JoAnna. I like the Padre Pio quote. I hope it's true!

Anonymous. You have challenged me to do what I really would like to do, but what will take a lot of effort. I will try to sit down and give a coherent post about my faith life and lost.


Robster said...

"The Deposit of Faith". Hmm, that sounds messy. A mix of bleach and detergent can often clear this up. It's really more a delusion of faith. The bible clearly says that believers prayers will be answered but they never are. That's what alerted me to the absolute nonsense that is religious belief. I look at the deluded christians as victims of an evil fraud and feel a bit sorry for them. What a monkey to have on your back.

MaiZeke said...

Have a look at buddhism - that's where I've been going lately. Mindful living also posits that wishing good for all beings on earth (including enemies) will make one more at peace in the end. It is just that there is no extra baggage that the Christian/Catholic faith requires you to have (such as a man on earth with real DNA that is not an exact replica of his mother's DNA, with a heavenly father - where did that DNA come from?)


AJL said...

I am not in a hurry to find any other religion. I have reviewed quite a lot in my journey. I find no basis for supernatural beliefs at this point. I do believe in positive thinking and that being merciful and kind and caring to others will definitely make a person happier and in turn with make others happier.

I am reminded of the other day. I was at the gas station and while filling up and was playing through the window with my daughter. I signed "Mommy Loves You". There was a man walking by and said "Aw, now that is beautiful. That's such a good job. Good for you. Beautiful." It made me happy that I could bring joy to him through a loving interaction with my daughter. HE then went and hugged his wife and gave her a kiss. Mushy, but cute!

But with all this good will, there was nothing necessarily supernatural. We were all acting and reacting to our natural surroundings and experiences.

Helena Krieger said...