Sunday, February 2, 2014

Praying For the Big Win

"Harmony and Tranquility"
-late winter's day in the desert-

Yesterday when I pulled into the lot of a local supermarket, it was so busy that I barely found a place to park my car. I wondered what was going on - it wasn't the holiday season, was there some big event happening in the area?  Then it hit me. All those people were swarming that supermarket in preparation for one of the greatest and holiest festivals in American culture. They were getting ready for "Superbowl Sunday." 

As I made my way through the crowded aisles of the store, I listened to the conversation of two men who had stopped to chat with each other about the upcoming big game. They were discussing the merits of their favorite team (I think their team was Denver).  

Before they parted company, one man said to the other, "Be sure to say a prayer for a big win tomorrow." To which the other responded, "O don't worry about that, I've been praying for it really hard all week." 

I was immediately struck by the fact that the one simple sentence about "praying really hard for your team to win" serves as a perfect icon of precisely what I do NOT believe either about "God," or about "prayer." 

I wondered what images might have been going on in the minds of those two guys who were urging one another to pray for that big Super Bowl win. 

Did they imagine God as some sort of heavenly being sitting up in a distant heaven weighing all His options about who He was going to allow to win the game today? And what would the criteria be for God's verdict about who would get the prize?  Would He total up all the prayers and then the team with the most prayers would win? Or would God figure out how many people had prayed "really hard" and that would be the determining factor?  Or maybe God would just render His verdict on the basis of what team He liked the best. 

Then I also pondered about what will happen to those two guys if their favorite team either wins or if the team loses after all that "really hard" praying?  If their team wins, will they think that God has listened to their prayers more than the prayers of all those Seattle fans?  Or if their team loses, will they think that maybe they didn't pray hard enough, or maybe they did something God doesn't like, so he wasn't listening to them, or maybe God just doesn't like Denver?

It all seemed rather ludicrous to me, but it did point out some core problems about why "God" isn't really taken very seriously by lots of people in the world today.

I cannot possibly even imagine a God in the sky worrying about the Super Bowl.

Yesterday when I returned from my supermarket experience, I took a walk in the wilderness. As I walked along the trail, immersed in the exquisitely awesome beauty of the late afternoon of a winter's desert day, I was intensely aware that all of it was filled with "God," everything and everyone flowing with a universal energy, a cosmic Holy Abiding Presence unable to be named, intimately abiding and yet so beyond my own ideas that I dare not even call out the name of "God" - so far beyond anything I can ask for or imagine.

As I walked along the trail yesterday, I thought about those men in the grocery store who were trying to control a very small "God"by praying really hard  - trying to get Him to do things their way. My experience of "God" is way bigger than all that.

I plan on watching the Super Bowl today. I'd guess that the team with more skills who catch the most breaks will probably win.  

I don't think "God" will be watching or paying any attention to who wins. 

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