This was originally posted on Huffington Post in 2016. In the wake of another school shooting, it has become relevant once again.
As everyone knows, there was a terrible attack in Paris on Friday, November 13. ISIS has claimed responsibility for it. Right after it happened, all of the various social media sites lit up with different versions of “Pray for Paris.” My first thought was “Why?” While I get that to religious folks praying for someone, or a whole country in this case, is a kind, warm thing to do, it is not the most helpful thing to do. I’m not trying to be a jerk to my religious friends out there. I would LOVE if prayer worked. Think about how different the world it would be.
We would not need to pray for Paris or any of the other places that insane, misguided people have attacked because there would be no such thing as terrorists. Someone would have prayed away that whole “let’s kill each other over God” mess hundreds of years ago.
The world would be jam-packed with people. There would be a lot more babies because the “pro-life” folks would have prayed away all abortions. Also, other people would have prayed away HIV, herpes, hepatitis c, and all other sexually transmitted diseases. So, people who were concerned about catching diseases would stop using condoms. Thus, leading to more pregnancies. No one would ever die because people would have prayed away cancer, AIDS, Ebola, and a host of other diseases along with death in general.
Everyone would be really overweight, and then not. First, people would pray to end world hunger so there would be so much food everywhere that people would become obese. Then, people would pray to end obesity. So, everyone would wake up one morning as though they had spent a month on The Biggest Loser. Slim-Fast, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, and all other weight loss programs would go bankrupt.
Every football, basketball, baseball, soccer, or other game would end in a tie. Think about it. You’re praying for YOUR team to win, and your *&#khead neighbor is praying for HIS team to win. Important stuff here. So, it’s a tie. God is listening to EVERYONE. Seriously though, if God is really listening to every prayer, he’s sucking down a trenta espresso every 9 seconds. It’s a lot of work. You would think he’d hire helpers.
I used to pray when I was a kid when I still believed in Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, and Jesus. Back in the 70’s, I prayed to end the sexual abuse I was enduring. I had tried telling my grandmother about it when I was three, but she told me “we don’t talk about things like that.” So, I used to curl up under my sheets and pray that it wouldn’t happen again. But it continued, just like cancer, terrorism and all of the other horrible things go on even though a lot of us are praying for them to stop.
I know what you’re thinking. If something bad happens, it happens for a reason, right? God chooses which prayers to answer. It’s all a part of God’s plan. Well, then God is one sick dude. He allows people to be raped, tortured, starved, bombed, beaten, and many other things just because it’s a part of his plan. Is he playing some masochistic version of the Sims?
The majority of people don’t question “God’s plan.” They go on offering prayers in person and online. If you really think about it, typing “prayers” as a comment on Facebook or a hashtag on Twitter is really a very useless thing to do. It’s not actually helping anyone but the person who typed “prayers.” That person feels like they actually did something. In reality, they probably typed “prayers,” reached into the bag next to them for another Cheeto, and then went back to surfing the net for fat pics of their ex. Even if the person actually DOES pray, what does this actually accomplish?
Oh, people always have stories of that time that prayer saved someone. Maybe their spouse had a brain tumor and it was completely cured. It’s a miracle! God saved the spouse, right? Nope. Maybe, just maybe, the surgeon who removed the tumor should get credit. He did spend a decade or more in training to do just that. I don’t know about you, but Jesus Christ, MD is not on my health insurance plan.
Religious folks will say, “But, Lisa, GOD put that surgeon in that person’s life to save their husband. God did that.” Oh, silly me. So, God gets credit for giving a person a surgeon but not for blessing them with cancer. Of course. That’s logical.
If we really want to help people, there are tangible things we can do. Does your friend have cancer? Offer to hire a cleaning service for her, or take her a meal. Buy her some warm pajamas. Do something real to help. Want to help the people in Paris? You can donate to the Red Cross and Red Crescent. They are coordinating efforts to assist victims in Paris and other places. Pray all you want, but if you really want to help people, there are ways to do it.