The futility of prayer … and certain radio interviews
I had hoped that, having been asked by BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester to comment this morning on the daft Just Pray hoardings erected at Hereford railway station, I would get the chance to discuss a number of issues concerning prayer, but that was not too be. By my reckoning I got a less than a minute’s airtime, and could not expand on any of the points I’d intended to raise.
My irritation was compounded by a factor of at least 100 when I later learned that Christians had started using Twitter to pray for Richard Dawkins, 74, who is recovering from a minor stroke he suffered on Saturday.
It also annoyed non-Christians atheists, who posted messages such as these:
• Wishing (not praying) @RichardDawkins a speedy recovery. Hope to see you in Oz soon!
• Gave me a shock: @RichardDawkins has stroke (but getting better already) (do not pray for him please).
• @RichardDawkins I’m not praying you make a swift recovery, which I hope you’ll appreciate.
I really wanted to shoehorn into the interview two controversial issues: imprecatory prayers asking God to smite godless heathens like me, and the harm praying can do to the children of parents who put faith above medical treatments.
I would have said that if the Just Pray mob were to be honest, they would surely make public their support for imprecatory prayers, defined by Delve into Jesus thus:
If we are seeking for God to be glorified, then we may be right to ask for God’s righteous punishment. In particular, when someone is doing something unholy such as worshiping the devil or persecuting Christians, then it is right that we should ask God to punish that person so He would be glorified.
It might be right and even loving to ask God to harm the person in order to get their attention and stop what they’re doing. We are not asking for our own gain, only that justice would be done and God would be rightly worshiped and obeyed.
Psalm 109:8 is one imprecatory prayer. The words of the psalm are:
Let his days be few; and let another take his office … Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
This psalm used a few years back, without any noticeable effect, against President Obama when droves of right wing Christian websites began selling a variety of “Pray for Obama” items – t-shirts, bumper stickers, hats, and even teddy bears with emblazoned with Psalm 109. It even appeared on church noticeboards.
These two points alone would, I believe, would have sparked a lively debate on Radio Hereford and Worcester, but I guess, having alerted the presenters ahead of the interview that I intended tackling the subject with all guns blazing, they decided that in in-depth interview would be too hot to handle and instead wasted time on asking train passengers whether they were able to recite “Our father who art in heaven … blah, blah.”
Hat tip: BarrieJohn (Dawkins report)