I believe in the power of prayer – and not because somebody told me that prayer works (but they did), or because it says so in the Bible (though it does). I believe in the power of prayer because it works. I’ve witnessed it; I’ve experienced it; I’ve seen first-hand the results of my prayers for others, others’ prayers for me, and even my own prayers for myself.
I believe when somebody asks you to pray for them, you pray for them. It’s the kind thing to do. Even if you don’t believe in prayer, what’s the harm in ‘humoring’ somebody? I believe that even when somebody doesn’t ask you to pray for them, you pray for them anyway when you realize they are struggling with something. Again, it’s the kind thing to do.
In case I didn’t mention it before, it’s kind to pray for others. It’s a loving thing to do, pray for others. You see, when we pray, we pray for good things. We pray for the sick to be healed, for the broken hearted to be comforted, for financial stability, for people to make good decisions when faced with difficult dilemmas, for government and heads of state, for the rich man and the poor man, for the guy next door and the guy we just passed on the street. We pray for our sons and daughters and your mothers and fathers. We aren’t praying for petty things like our favorite team winning the Super Bowl or that our favorite hair product that was discontinued is brought back into circulation. We don’t pray for bad things to happen to people who have done bad; rather, we pray that justice is served – but more importantly, that the person turns from their evil ways. We pray for the wisdom to raise our children up right, and for the discernment to know right from wrong. And when we pray we not only ask for these things, but also pray that we know how to put into action what needs to be done and that we’ll have the fortitude to see things through. We even pray that others will start praying, because we’ve seen the outcome of more prayers being answered when more people pray, not just because the Bible says, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” – Matthew 18:20. We have seen evidence of this over and over again, so we believe this to be true.
It’s okay with me if you don’t believe in the power of prayer. God gave you free will to believe whatever it is you believe, and that’s between you and God. But – the next time somebody requests prayers, please don’t disrespect them (or your own intellect) by offering to send “good thoughts” in lieu of prayer. A prayer is genuine because it is believed to work; if you don’t believe prayer works, it is not only illogical but intellectually dishonest to believe that “good thoughts” do work.
Those who pray are genuine in their belief that prayer works. In fact, believing so strongly in the power of prayer, why WOULDN’T we pray for others’ well-being? If we believe prayer works, how cruel would we have to be to not pray?
Can the prayer police say the same about “sending good thoughts?” If one doesn’t believe prayer works, it would be contradictory to think that good thoughts work. Therefore, those “thoughts” are not genuine at all since it cannot be believed that they work.
How does that (sending “good thoughts”) work anyway? Does one devote special time to “think” about others? Do people form thought chains? Is there a weekly meeting of fellow “thinkers” who sit in silence, thinking, or (and my money’s on this one) do they tell each other what they’re supposed to think about? To whom or to what does one think? Has anyone ever seen the results of a collective group of thought and thought alone? No. It is impossible to see the results of a “thoughts only” collaborative because for every thing people think about, there are also prayers going up for the matter. Even when nobody in the “think group” realizes it; even when those praying don’t know exactly what it is they are praying for.
We pray in general and we pray specifically. We pray for our friends, we pray for our foes. We pray for family members, acquaintances and even total strangers. And yes, we pray for those who are disingenuously sending “good thoughts” and even for those telling us how foolish we are for praying. Can “thinkers” say the same? Are they “sending good thoughts” for those of us who pray? What are those good thoughts? That they wish more people would quit praying and start sending good thoughts instead?
My intent here is not to call anybody out, drag anybody down or assault their way of thinking, but to get the critical thinking skills going on this whole “good thoughts” business. If “thinkers” want to continue to “send good thoughts” they’re free to do so – even though we all know they don’t actually believe that thoughts work. And for that reason alone, “thinkers” really have no business telling other people that their prayers mean nothing.