I was surprised by a reaction to a Tweet from Chris Pratt offering prayers to one of his friends in the hospital who, from what I could tell, had had a heart attack. It seems some people—and, let’s be clear, because when I say, “some people”, I mean predominantly atheists—are confused by why other people, in which I mean predominantly theists—pray.
Kevin we don’t know each other too good but I have loved you since Clerks and I’m praying my ass off for you cause I believe in the healing power of prayer. Can you please pray with me people!? 🙏♥️ https://t.co/syB7BiQaoY
— chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) February 26, 2018
Now, as to whether prayer is effective, is for another post. Today, I would like to talk about something else—something like tolerance. But I suppose it also can’t not be stated that just because a person offers prayers or condolences doesn’t mean they don’t do anything else but get on with their day. I’m sure some people do that—and most of us, believer or non, engage in some level of armchair activism, and could do better about that—but there are also many who pray and then conjoin their prayers with action when possible or appropriate. We believer-types don’t just pray that hungry people will be fed. We pray that hungry people will be fed, and then we bake ziti for the local soup kitchen.
But sometimes, no action is possible or appropriate, and so that’s when we turn everything over to God. To be clear, when I say we turn everything over to God, I don’t mean we’re expecting God to swoop in and turn everything around just like that, but to guide the situation in whatever way makes sense for His plan, and that those who are suffering may find some sort of solace or purpose to whatever is going on—which we are certain they will. So, we’re not trying to change God’s mind, or anything like that. We’re just trying to let him know that we care. Because we believe God likes to hear that. And so do people who are suffering.
Also, I don’t know what people were expecting of Mr. Pratt. Because so far as I can tell, he is not a doctor nor a surgeon, so could not have conducted the operation himself, nor is he an anesthesiologist or an ambulance driver or anything like that. Maybe I’m just confused about what Mr. Pratt could have done aside offering prayerful sentiments to someone he seems to love very much. And to me, that seems perfectly appropriate, whether you believe in prayer or not. And certainly it does not seem like something to be mocked or condemned. What is it with all these fundamentalist-type atheists, anyway? (Note: Not all atheist are the same; just as not all theists are the same. I get that. Hence the term, fundamentalist-type.) Even though they may not believe in prayer, I am still thankful to any atheist whenever they offer their “thoughts” to something terrible happening. Because it’s nice to know that people care, no matter who that person is.
Here’s the point. None of us are going to get very far in life if we start attacking people for not expressing our preferred kind of sentiment. Now, is it right to condemn a person for praying when what they should be doing is stitching a wound? Sure, but why must it be one or the other? Stitch the wound, apply the disinfectant, do everything you need, then pray that it holds. I see nothing wrong with that, and I don’t think any reasonable person would disagree. And I get there is always that helpful fundamentalist fellow on the opposite side who will reject the insulin shot in favor of divine intervention and so divine intervention they will receive, one way or another. But that isn’t the conversation we are holding today. The conversation we are holding today is don’t be a jerk to people who pray.