I’m not sure that the Almighty particularly misses the prayers of mine which used to be sarcastic.
For example, I was always quite adept at shooting up sarky, ‘Thanks a lot, God’ arrow prayers. ‘Arrow prayers’ are quick prayers shot up to God in moments of crisis. My sarcastic ones were really quite satisfying when placed in situations in which I could literally do or say nothing. I liked the image of the arrow being shot into the sky. Hey, maybe the arrows could have hit someone, sending them spiralling out of their place of relative ease, back towards our world of mere mortals? The blood could be invisible too.
I’m still angry with God. It’s not entirely a forgiveness issue. And God is still ‘allowing’ me to be in some difficult situations.
For example, after posting my last blog link in one US Facebook group, one Christian told me that he was very sorry for the loss of my brother… “but” … I was defying God. It is not what a believer does, he said.
I was also told to repent. Again.
So, when I was annoyed (after all, my brother has just died and I’m feeling a bit… spikey), I told the guy that he was wrong and that he was playing on my deepest fears and that he shouldn’t talk to people like that.
Dale Carnegie once wrote in How to Win Friends and Influence People that the worst thing you can say to a fellow human being is to tell them they are ‘Wrong’. Carnegie said the word is like a clanging symbol in our heads. But it felt right to say it. Besides, it was true. So I said it in capitals.
Now, patient reader, there is a happy world in which the right people wonderfully win internet debates, where their critics and accusers (and the trolls of the brain) are filled with shame and in which justice is served and minds are changed and truth and love win out. Unfortunately, it is not a world I’m particularly familiar with. Maybe that is just Hollywood, or in Bible debates and not real life. In real life, in the group, I was told I have a “seared conscience” and nothing more could be done for me.
In these circumstances there are three things to do aren’t there? Three whole choices – after all God had just ‘allowed’ this thing to happen, and what if it was the voice of the Almighty through this man? (And really, all this is not simply about some obscure internet scuffle). To use an adventure gamebook/interactive fiction metaphor… here are the ‘choices’ I had…
If you escalate the debate, assuring your online opponent that you would never speak to someone in grief like he has just done, using scriptures as swords like he has against you – turn to page 42
If you simply walk away from the debate… turn to page 50
If you wish to respond in one word, possibly beginning with a C, turn to page 153 and lose one Honour Point
I turned to page 50.
You were lucky. Count your blessings. The others in the group are kinder than this one guy. And the argument does not escalate. You remain annoyed by the whole thing and worried that you have a seared conscience, so decide to write about this incident in your next blog (Lose one Honour Point).
To be fair, people in general have been thoughtful and understanding. It’s helpful. I’m grateful for it. Thank you. Go easy on me.
But what do you do if a strike isn’t working?
What do you do if those with the power simply do not budge or even make an attempt to carve a deal? As someone else thoughtfully said, I’m effectively ‘drinking poison’ – God isn’t harmed by my being angry with him, is he? He’s reasonably happy in his Heaven. It’s not like he is suffering beyond the emotional suffering which goes along with not being able to get what you want most of the time. It’s hardly agony for him, is it? If I affirm his emotional suffering, will he return the favour? He can do, or not do, what he wants (and don’t we know it?). Dialogue must resume at some stage, mustn’t it?
Not necessarily… not even if there is… say… an earthquake… which has been ‘allowed’ too. And I can assure you I have not prayed for those affected by that either,. It must be the seared conscience.
So, this is day 45 by my reckoning. If I have lost you in any of this, then all you basically need to remember is that I am very publicly telling anyone who asks, that I am NOT praying for them. I am very publicly telling as many people who will listen, that they do NOT have my thoughts and prayers at this time – for personal reasons.
And I still believe.
So, I’m very sorry not to be able to offer my readers sporadic prayer cover anymore – but let’s be honest – it hardly helped much in the past, did it? Or were you thriving?
As I say, giving up prayer is harder than you may think.
I’m not saying this as some freaky manipulation to try to get you to pray, or to try to get you NOT to pray along with me. To me it is all neutral now. I really am relatively independent. I will neither help or hinder anyone in this. I don’t particularly want others to join me in my lonely, austere, strike against God in which I am effectively in an uncomfortable conscious resistance against the Almighty. It might be an idea not to be in conscious resistance with your opponent. Anyway, it’s hardly an enviable position, is it? My brother has just died – I’m not a happy bunny.
I await the Almighty’s imminent capitulation to my demands or for an adequate deal to be struck. I will not (at this stage) threaten an escalation of proceedings as I’m sure that all parties know that threats lack efficacy in terms of manipulation and general respect towards an opponent. Basically, to get me to pray, the Almighty is going to have to torture me. Then I would pray… really, I would. I mean, anyone would wouldn’t they? But, you see, my heart wouldn’t be in it.
Besides, society has its own manipulations, doesn’t it? And maybe torture can take a number of forms.
Any further negative incidents will result in either appropriate or inappropriate responses. Things like, say, an earthquake… or, a chronically hurting arm… or… any negative incident affecting either myself or others… I may, or may not, kick up more of a holy fuss about it, depending on certain factors…
Just one last thing before I look once more to my circumstances…
For those interested in conspiracy theories (and if you are not, why not?) – there happens to be one excessively powerful force effectively doing a jig over my latest move and my reaction to life events. And it’s not Rishi Sunak, his vile political regime, or any flesh and blood enemy I may or may not have.
Knowing now that I am unable to protect you via prayer from this person and his minions, both you and I are almost entirely exposed to his attacks and accusations. I have held them off for as long as I can. Luckily for us, not singlehandedly. I’m not talking about Putin.
I can no longer ask God to deliver you from evil.
Please believe me when I say that of all the prayers which I did once sporadically offer, this was the one prayer which was heartfelt and pure enough for you and others. If you still do not believe we have an invisible, non-flesh and blood, enemy then you will probably be fine… don’t worry about it. It’ll probably be okay. Maybe.
Anyway, what kind of jig are those negative powers doing right now? Is it a good jig? Could it get on Strictly? I bet it’s not even a half-decent jig, is it?
The devil can’t dance…