Two friends, one a Theist and the other an Atheist are sitting at their favorite watering hole to discuss prayer. The Atheist says: “ I have a conundrum for your folk of faith. Either you believe in a G who listens and cares and answers your prayers or you believe that G is some form of energy that is just the force behind all things in the universe. If you believe the former, why do so many of your prayers go unanswered? Why do bad things happen to good people? And why do good things happen to bad people,’ he chuckled. “And if you believe the latter, why pray to this energy that you want to call G.”
The Theist smiles: “To answer your very good question, we should, as all good philosophers do, answer your question with a question. What is prayer? You know, in reality, there are only 4 prayer types, millions of prayers but they all can be categorized into 4. They are; ‘please, thank you, I’m sorry and Wow.’” After a moment of shared laughter, the Theist continues. “‘Wow’ refers to a series of prayers for when we see, hear, feel or taste something amazing, like seeing the Rockies or the Grand Canyon or the birth of a child… When we hear thunder or taste first fruits of the season, these are all reasons for ‘wow’ prayers. There are ‘wow’ prayers for special occasions and things that are firsts.” “Ok, I get it, I understand the Oh Wow prayers, even if I would not give them an address,” laughs the Atheist.
“Then there are ‘I’m sorry’ prayers,” continues the Theist. “Prayers of that very awkward awareness that we are human and that we will always make mistakes, some that hurt the ones we love. The ‘I’m sorry’ prayers are a way of facing our fears and foibles. The ‘oh wow’ prayers are the first step on a path of self acceptance warts and all. The ‘I’m sorry’ prayers are pledges of mental toughness, to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and keep going, striving to better ourselves.”
“That is a tough awareness, a tough truth that we all must face responding the Atheist. Acknowledging that tough truth can be a real challenge.” The friends were silent, lost in their own private awareness for several moments
‘Thank you’ prayers are prayers of awareness as well”, continues the Theist,” awareness of the good fortune that is in the energy and matter that surrounds and fills us. There are prayers celebrating our senses, for sight, smell, taste, and touch, for our good fortune.”
“Ok, I can see the rationality of that too, but now we come to the hard question,” the Atheist smiles; “what about the ‘please’ prayers?” “I can see where that would seem difficult for one with the malady of Atheism,” teases the Theist. “But you will admit that bad things happen in this world. The ‘please prayers’ are pleas prayers for spiritual strength, for internal fortitude, for the compassion and wisdom to handle the mishap of fate, the horrors and hate, the anger and pain that is part and parcel of the world in which we live. The formal prayers may seem to be asking for good things; ‘Dear G, let me show you that winning the lottery won’t change me!’ But there is greater depth to these prayers. When I pray for the health and welfare of my family, I am setting up my priorities. Yes I want the vibrating recliner for Hanukah and I really need that new Vitamix, but those things, matter made up of energy have to take a back seat to enlightenment, to a sense of wonder and awe for this planet and everything upon it. The prayer: ‘Please let this be a good year for me,’ means more than, can I have a better job or can the washing machine last for another year without breaking down. The prayer requires us to look deeper, to ask ourselves how a ‘good year’ look and feel to my soul. The ‘please’ pleas can be a way of connecting with the energy that is within and around in a quiet call to the deepest part of the mystery in our search for oneness.”
Again silence fell between the two friends who drifted into their own thoughts; the wow, the ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, the ‘I am sorry’ and the ‘wow’ of all existence. Was the Atheist turned around? Who knows and what does it matter. It’s all about the eternal energy, the source of all things, even our prayers.
Blessings for all that you need and the awareness of the blessings you have already received