"Having a blog is like wandering around your house naked with the windows open; it's all very liberating until someone looks in the window. However, while being caught unawares is one thing, it is quite another to stroll up to the window and press your naked, flabby body against the coolness of the glass in a hideous form of vertical prostration for all the world to see..." These posts are the smudges that are left behind on the window.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Transcendent Bullshit

I must admit that prayer has confused me for some time now. I used to pray on a semi-regular basis, as any good evangelical would. If I was honest though, most of my prayer life surrounded asking for things like safety of loved ones, direction in life, good weather, or a hollandaise sauce that didn't suck. Oh, I'd add the requisite praise section so I didn't piss off God. And of course the, I'm-so-sorry-for-my-sins bit, just to make sure I ended up in heaven. After all I didn't want to end up like my neighbour who has blown my driveway every winter, all winter, for the past 23 years, but doesn't call himself a Christian. But, basically I was just asking God to do things for me. I didn't see anything wrong with this as most of the sermons, or books that I came across on prayer seemed to be about how to get God to do stuff for you.

Then I started down my current spiritual path that questioned everything, including prayer. I quickly became disgusted with my prayer life. How can I pray for safety, when others who pray just as hard are killed? How can I pray for food when others in the world are starving? Do I deserve it more? Or, more importantly, do they deserve it less? What about those that are riddled with cancer, did they not pray hard enough? I quickly stopped praying. I loved God too much to pray with such disrespect. Plus, any God that I could control with prayer wasn't worth worshiping.

There is so much discussion, controversy, and opinion about prayer - everyone seems to think they have the answer - that I'm starting to think that, like all things that have a lot of conflicting opinions, nobody's right. I wonder if we've missed the point entirely. What if prayer has nothing to do with the content of your prayer like praising God, or asking forgiveness, or manipulating? What if it doesn't matter if you're a health-and-wealth pentecostal, or an ascetic living in the desert? What if it does matter if you're speaking in tongues, or reciting the liturgy, because that's not the point.

What if the only point to prayer, no matter how you do it, is just to keep us connected to the divine? To make us realize that there's something other than ourselves out there. That there is something transcendent to aspire to? That there's more to life and living than just us? Maybe when you pray for something, and you get it (and I have, or so it seems), maybe it's just coincidence. Maybe it would have happened if you had prayed or not. Maybe that's why people pray for food and still starve to death, or pray for safety and still get killed, or pray for healing and still end up in a pine box. Maybe the tapestry illustration is just bullshit, but that's ok, because through it all we've remained connected to the transcendent - to something beyond ourselves.

There's a story about some famous guy - I forget his name - but, apparently he said, "I have so much to do today, I couldn't possibly get it all done without 3 hours of prayer". Perhaps he just wasted 3 hours of his day that could have been spent more productively. Or maybe, like a Buddhist, he spent 3 hours transcendently connected to the divine, and whatever happened that day would have happened anyway.