On Lorena’s Blog a person gave an aggress-passive comment ending with, “I have no idea if you’re a Christian or not. Only Christ knows your heart. But I will pray for you and your family.”
I am aware my family and (at one time—who knows if they continue) friends prayed for me as well. What, specifically, are they praying will happen? I understand how, in asking God to heal someone, even though you may not understand the specifics, the person is asking God to reach in the body, remove the cancerous cells, and miraculously replace the damaged tissue. Or if asking for employment—that God would “nudge” the resume to the right person at the right moment.
I equally understand how prayer is self-soothing. It helps one cope with a dying relative, or divorce without necessarily granting the desired wish. I’ve heard plenty apologetic defenses to the failure of prayer being God wanting prayer to affect the praying person—not the prayee.
But what could one possibly pray for a deconvert with any specificity?
Are they praying the deconvert gains knowledge? That God would “nudge” a certain book or article their way? If so, the person hopelessly does not understand deconversion. It isn’t “one thing.” It isn’t some silver bullet, that if only someone could give an explanation how the two accounts of Judas’ death could line up, we would become card-carrying Christians again.
Further, the deconvert often has far more knowledge than the Christian praying for them! Clearly more knowledge, even in the Christian’s paradigm, is not necessary for salvation—it wasn’t necessary for that person to be saved! How many times have we heard, “Have you read Strobel? Or Craig? Or Boyd? Or _____” and we say, “Yep.” If you are praying the deconvert needs more knowledge, you are wasting your time.
I’ve had people tell me they think Satan is deceiving me. Are they praying God will make Satan stop? How many times does one need to say that? At 100 prayers, does God finally say, “O.K., I guess they are serious that they want Satan to stop.” [A side-note to those interested in time-theory surrounding God. If God is outside time, it is often claimed all times are the “same” to Him. In other words, he sees our chronological time at the same moment. Our yesterday is the same to Him as our today and the same as our tomorrow. He sees 1000 B.C.E. at the same exact instant he sees 2010 C.E. If this was true, wouldn’t it also be true any prayer would be heard both at the same time as the instance the event requested is occurring AND all prayers would be heard simultaneously to God? Therefore, praying to God for the same thing twice is unnecessary.]
And if prayer is designed to make the praying person fell better, how does that work when it comes to knowledge? Are they supposed to feel better they know less than I do? Are they supposed to feel better that Satan is deceiving me and not them?
Are they praying God will reveal himself to me? How? What--Specifically--are they asking God to do? Curiously, we are criticized for asking God to reveal himself, as that would be selfish. But it is fine for the Christian to do so?
Are they praying we would be influenced by our friends? After abandoning us? (The irony is too rich in that one. Best leave it with a chuckle.)
I suspect the prayer consists of something like, “Please help DagoodS become a Christian.” An innocuous, non-specific generalism about as useful as, “Please help the starving children of the world, by making them feel full.” The children will still starve…