A Personal Update Plus a Rant about Prayer

I haven’t posted in a while. The last 6 months have been eventful with travel, house hunting, packing, and moving into a new house. But most recently, I’ve had to start job hunting.

The latter was truly unexpected. What a punch in the gut! I’ve been working from home for 9 years as an IT manager for an association — a job that I’ve truly loved. My association’s top executive retired earlier this year, and the new leader has been quick to make staff changes, favoring to hire people he has worked with at his last organization who also live in the same city. I’m trying hard to not let anger get the best of me.

The staff where I work have expressed sincere shock over the news. There’s one sentiment though from close friends that irks me. In regard to my job, I’ve heard:

I’ll pray for you.

I know it’s meant as a kind and thoughtful expression. I try to keep that in mind. But it’s the logic of it all that kills me.

A few of the logical problems include:

  • If there’s an omnipotent God who orchestrates life’s circumstances, what’s the point in my friend praying for me? Either there’s a God who’s in control, or there’s not. (Of course, I think it’s the latter).
  • If we assume for argument’s sake that man’s chief purpose is to glorify God (as the Bible states), and if we assume that answered prayer is one of the ways that God is glorified, how would God get any glory if my job situation is suddenly improved or resolved? Now maybe, if I just sat on my ass and did absolutely nothing, and suddenly a great job falls in my lap — hey, that would be moderately amazing! But naturally, I’m applying for jobs and spending significant time in networking with colleagues and friends. So if my job situation improves, how would God get any glory in that scenario?
  • When it comes to petitions to an all-powerful deity, there are just 3 possibilities. Yes, no, and “no answer”. When something goes right, Christians assume that God answered their prayer. When nothing happens, they just shrug their shoulders, and go “oh well”. With that in mind, how would the results change if a person prayed to a statue of Buddha? Or prayed to a jug of milk? It’s still the same possibilities: yes, no, and “no answer”. And because the God of the Bible is utterly silent when we pray to him, you could just as easily conclude that a statue of Buddha answered your prayers when circumstances turn favorable.

We humans are terribly superstitious. We fear black cats. Broken mirrors. Walking under ladders. Recently, I learned that my mother will never ever shake a table cloth outside again at night! She did so many years ago, and the following week there were 3 calamities that befell my mom and her husband. She chose to associate the late night table cloth shake with life’s turn of events. My mom is dead serious about it!

Back in January, my wife and I intentionally shook a dirty table cloth outside at night, in defiance of silly superstitions.*

If you’ve ever heard the expression, “Bless your heart!”, there’s a meme that says there’s a tiny little ‘fuck you’ in every “bless your heart” utterance. The phrase, “I’ll pray for you” also has an underlying message. I think it can include:

  • You really need to deal with that sin in your life
  • God must be punishing you
  • Glad it’s you and not me!
  • Aren’t you just a little pathetic

I don’t think my close friends lump all of those sentiments into their concern, but certainly some of it is there. As an atheist, I’m certainly a target for punishment, right?! LOL

I’ll close with this. Seth Andrews recently posted a video of a talk he gave called “Christianity Made Me Talk Like an Idiot”. It’s a funny look at all of those common expressions that we believers routinely said to one another. It’s worth your time to view! Enjoy.


* If you’re curious, nothing evil happened as a result of our late-night middle-finger test of the dirty table cloth shake.

9 thoughts on “A Personal Update Plus a Rant about Prayer

  1. Thanks for sharing your frustrations. They are common to most of us. Hey, after eight years of retirement I am also getting a job.

    Rationalizations are integral to being a Christian. So are excuses, qualifications, denial and even self-deception. For me, it was a toxic and disingenuine way to live. Totally frustrating and exhausting. Like you, I always thought the buck stopped with the all-powerful sovereign God. But give God the credit for your untoward circumstances (instead of laying the blame on yourself or satan), and watch as your Christian friends give you the stink eye. If you’re the “big guy” then you get credit for everything. Along with sovereignty comes responsibility. To me, it seems like God often takes the low road. Anyway, these issues are throwback thoughts from a different time. I am no longer a neurotic born-again believer.

    Here’s one. “When God closes one door, He opens up another.” There ya go! LOL!

  2. I hear you! Your frustrations are understandable. Perhaps instead of offering prayers they could ask what they can do to help. Novel concept.
    I have the same reaction when they offer to pray for my daughter. How ’bout a donation to the MS Society instead?
    My take is that this vein of Christianity is ego-oriented. They have the answer, the direct connection, and will beseech god on your behalf. They feel like they’re really doing something (and so don’t have to actually do anything) when they actually are just talking to themselves about you.
    Ok I’ll stop. You clearly
    touched a nerve. πŸ˜„
    Good luck with the job hunt!

  3. Hi Logan! Seems we’re in similar circumstances. Not the job (I’m retired), but the house-buying and moving. Exciting but ohhhh so much work!

    Anyway, enjoyed your posting and totally agree with your outlook.

    Oh, and sending good thoughts (from my human spirit to yours) that another job quickly comes your way. It sounds like you have an excellent track record and that can’t help but be to your advantage.

    • Thank you Nan! After living in an apartment for 5 years, I was very anxious to return to being a homeowner. And we love our house! But you’re right — ohhh so much work! It’s a happy kind of work though. πŸ™‚

  4. I have an aversion to ‘liking’ posts like this because the content isn’t always something that I actually like. If you get what I mean.

    I wish you good fortune in finding a new job, that sucks, it really does.

    On a FB discussion group recently, a Christian asked the atheists how they would respond if a Christian asked to pray with them in they suffered the loss of someone close. I was one of many who answered they would refuse the offer. One Christian had the audacity to accuse the atheists of rejecting compassion by rejecting the prayer. It seems that there are those who can’t see the difference, or maybe they are so cosseted in their lives that they actually think the only way to show compassion is to pray with someone. Hopefully they are the minority, but it bothers me that they exist, regardless of their number.

Leave a Reply