For those of you who don't already know, I used to be one of those obnoxiously perky born-agains. Occasionally I like to reflect upon how ridiculous I used to be and the ridiculous things I used to believe, then share them with you.
Also, for those of you who didn't know, I work at a hospital part-time doing tray service (the bringer of jello...). Usually my job involves taking trays up to patients room and dropping them off. Last night as I was going about my duties, I struck up a casual conversation with an older man as I got his tray table set up. He was in a lot of pain due to a bad hip and was going into surgery the next day. It was pretty much just small talk until right as I left, he asked me to pray for him.
Now the hospital I work at is part catholic (it merged with a secular hospital a while back), so I am used to seeing pamphlets for grief prayers and creepy pictures of jesus in the rehab wing. I usually just ignore these christian aspects and go about my day. However, I have never been asked to pray for a patient before. It totally caught me off guard, and I wasn't sure what to say. I just sort of rushed a "Kayenjoyyourdinner" and booked it out.
While I have done plenty of praying for people in the past, I wasn't exactly sure how to feel about that. Obviously this scared man wanted to know that people were praying for him, but I obviously wasn't going to. Then it sort of dawned on me: asking people to pray for you had to be one of the stupidest things I had ever heard. Back in my christianly days, it was quite common to have someone put in a request that the church keep them in their prayers for something or other. I even remember people asking for prayers for their friends or family we didn't even know. Then, it seemed like "yes, we will have so many people asking god's blessing for this person, surely they will get better," but now it seems dumb. If god is the benevolent, all-powerful and all-knowing lord of the universe, shouldn't one prayer be enough? Shouldn't he be able to see that you need his help without having an entire church tell him you need help too?
Is prayer like a petition? The more signatures, the better the chance that your prayer will get answered? Maybe he can't hear your voice alone amidst all the other prayers, but if you have a lot of people shouting at one time, then he can hear you. Maybe he needs to know that other people give a damn about you if he is going to make the effort to save you. It just seemed so absurd. How was one strange girl's prayer going to convince god to provide a safe surgery? I know that there is some "proof" that prayer leads to a better recovery, but if anything, it is psychological. People with better attitudes tend to recover quicker.
Then it made me think of how contradictory the whole prayer thing was anyways. One the one hand "It is important to ask god for help with your problems" and on the other hand "god knows what we need, even if we don't know we need it." So why ask if he knows? If a parent sees a child suffering, does he or she let the child ask for help over and over before they do something, or do they go and help right away. There is something to be said for letting a child learn the hard way, but then god sure does have pretty morbid standards for what "the hard way" is. What a jerk.
So now I'm rambling.