Since my only brother died from a brain tumour on Christmas day, I have been prayerless. They say I should let God know that I’m angry with him. Through prayer.
I’m not doing that. It’s manipulative.
The temptation for me is to escalate things further and become an ex-Christian.
Except I would be the worse ex-Christian ever because I would still believe. I’m pretty sure I know how to leave the faith, but what’s the point? There are some very lovely ex-Christians. The human rights act says that any person can leave any faith (or presumably return to it). But it’s a bit of a no-no within most faith communities.
There are usually mitigating circumstances in someone making a decision like that. Besides, there isn’t a court of law which will accept a testimony under duress is there? Confessions under torture (even the slow torture of capitalism) are not evidence.
Anyway, my threatening to pack it all in is no more of a threat than anything the Almighty says… except at least I admit it’s a threat. Does that make me the better person?
It’s tempting though. The ex-Christians largely say that they feel much freer now and I would like that too. To feel free. Because that’s just another seemingly broken promise from the Almighty, isn’t it? The truth will set you free. But when?
Maybe in a year’s time I will be like the writer who decided that he was going to try Atheism for a year and will have left the faith by then too? Options are open.
So the prayer strike continues. I had already effectively stopped taking communion. For me it was all those scary scriptures about taking it unworthily. Now it’s just part of my strike against God. But I’m still going to church online – to me it is one of the picket lines. A good place to stare at crosses.
I’ve been prayerless before anyway. For the first 20 years of my life, I resisted the urge to appeal to a higher power. People do it, or rather… don’t do it… all the time, and they seem to get on with life pretty normally. Some of them even thrive. So what if the majority of my life has been about sporadically trying to communicate with God?
But I think it’s true that we all grieve differently.
I swear that God has a policy when it comes to dealing with those who have lost loved ones. In that sense we are just another statistic. Way to go, to make us all feel special in a good way…
…I was going to write the word ‘God’ at the end of that last sentence but realised it would have been a written prayer. And I don’t do that anymore.
Maybe he particularly likes the kind of person who turns to him immediately afterwards, thanks him for the person’s life and says something like: ‘You give and take away, blessed be your name, Lord’. Maybe that’s the best way to go about things. To steal away the prayers along with the loved ones.
For believers, there are a couple of promises from the Bible here and there which act like a sop. The main one being, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
But I’m, like, “When?” (Once again, without adding the word ‘God’ to the end of the question.)
It’s a promise. It’s a little comforting in and of itself, but that’s all. There are a number of promises from the Almighty like that, according to the Christian faith.
But why praise and thank someone who promises to do something before they have actually done it? Few people thank a waiter before they have served a meal.
Giving God the silent treatment has not resulted in much which is particularly good. Am I to count my blessings again? Is giving someone the silent treatment always a manipulation? If God refuses to communicate with a person on earth, is the silent treatment still a sin? Or is it okay, because it’s God who has done (or not done) it? They say that God is always speaking and we don’t stop to listen. But he’s not though, is he? That’s never been my experience anyway.
We learn the silent treatment from others.
So, I’m left with, “Blessed are those who mourn…”
They say that the word ‘blessed’ means ‘happy’.
I wonder sometimes, if I have tumbled into some alternate reality in which nothing is as it should be.
There have already been some moments when I’ve felt I should have prayed. I’ve been in situations and heard some general requests for prayer from others which I would previously have said a brief arrow-prayer for.
In the end, with the earthquake, I felt bad for all those people in that hell on earth. I didn’t pray, but I gave £1. It wasn’t much, but I’m not rich, there’s a cost-of-living crisis still on, and I’m not a great giver financially to charities and things. I give information and writing as freely as I can and try to give in other ways – petitions and things. I haven’t given up attempting to do good deeds. The strike does not extend that far. Yet.
It’s nice, too, to see that almost the whole Church has effectively joined me in my strike. I wouldn’t have done so myself but they are largely refusing to pray for the people of Russia in public. But as I mentioned, I don’t really want others to join me in this lonely, austere task. And I think it’s a bit of a shame that in war time we are no longer allowed to express love for our latest Government-manufactured enemies.
Anyway, it seems that God isn’t bothered by my silent treatment towards him.
So he won’t mind if I continue then, will he?