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What is prayer? Does it work? I’ll spare you the details of my Ebenezers, and just say that I have to agree with much of what Judith Hayes, an atheist, says about prayer. She writes with uncommon sensitivity about the myopia and, yes, unintended but perceptible arrogance of those who thank God for being spared when others were not. (see her post at http://www.happyheretic.com on the anniversary of 9/11). I am a Christian, and would pass the scratch and sniff test of Christianity that most fundamentalists would put me through — after all, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Bible is the Word of God, and that the only hope for mankind is that set of hopes presented in the Bible and anchored in the atonement of Jesus Christ.

But frankly, unlike Jesus I’m often ashamed to call many Christian believers my brethren. Their faith seems so centered on their own salvation, so oblivious to the crushing burdens of the past and present and worries about the future upon the heads of 95% of the people of the world. When I raise these issues with many Christians, they say, “God is Sovereign” … in other words, don’t worry, be happy. I would go crazy if I didn’t find in the Bible a much bigger God, and a much more fair and universal strategy for saving the world of mankind, than most Christians can see there.

It seems to me that if we believe in prayer and call ourselves Christians at some level, we need to pay attention to what we were taught to pray… for God’s will to be done in earth as it is in heaven.

Clearly, if there is a God (and I believe time and events will prove that there is), it cannot be God’s will for human history to remain unredeemed and unexplained. Something needs to happen to set things right, to allow people to gain the benefits of their travail, for old wrongs to be righted and old loves to be requited.

Judith Hayes, keep up the good work. You are a prophet who speaks a big part of the truth that is a huge blind spot for most Christians — and I am not the least bit worried about you. I am not praying for your “salvation” — Jesus said, “He who hears my words, and believes not, I condemn him not.” — but I do hope you can come visit me and enjoy a lamb-burger with my wife and I some day! Thanks for being you! Your honesty, even at the cost of friendships and respect from those you love, is an example to all of us!

Tomorrow, I’m going to work on the Sabbath and tackle the big questions raised by the Holocaust!

Looking back, it seems like all I write about is religion. Don’t worry — I’m interested in other things too… so don’t give up on my little experiment yet — ok?

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