Monday, September 19, 2011

The Power of Impious Prayers

I was painting the dining room in our house over the weekend when my "trusty right hand" let me down. I was cutting in the wall and I accidentally slathered paint on the ceiling, at which point I used the Christian curse, "Dad gummit." That got me to thinking, "Does God grant our requests, even those masked in piety or delivered in outright anger? When some of us pray, 'Dad gummit' or 'God damn it,' does He answer our request and deliver a divine curse?"

If He were a fertility god, a power that was easily manipulated for our purposes, then the God of Israel would have to do what we say, bringing curses down upon a variety of persons, objects, and circumstances. Imagine how many times the God of heaven hears the prayer coming from Americans? One wonders (a la "Bruce Almighty") if the simple request, "God damn it," is the most common prayer He hears, more than "Grant us peace" or "Forgive us" or even "Help me." Indeed, if we were to believe that God is our personal Lord who answers our every prayer according to our expectations, then we might be led to infer that the damned world is a result of our impious prayers.

Then again, I'm grateful the God of Israel is not a fertility god, that He ignores our impetuous requests, and that He would rather hear the heartfelt cry of an abandoned soul who screams impiously, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?"

2 comments:

JDTapp said...

A few years ago I read Charles Kraft's I Give You Authority, in which he argues that God indeed answers those prayers.
Kraft even goes beyond that. For example, he surmises that adults who struggle with depression may have had curses placed on them in the course of their life being told "You're worthless," or "I hate you." He encourages believers to pray for God to return curses placed on them as blessings upon the cursor, and to develop the practice of praying blessings. Pretty controversial, but makes you think about Jesus' words about "every idle word."

Melissa Fitzpatrick said...

Oh my word, this is powerful. All I can think to comment is: ME. TOO. I'm grateful too.