Thursday, February 17, 2011

Don't Pray For Me

This post is not aimed at one person. I've had several experiences which have led me to write this.

"I'll be praying for you." Are these comforting words for you to hear? They should be. Hopefully they come from a friend or loved one who has your best interests at heart and who are concerned for you.

There are certain things that people pray for which are not very controversial at all, such as healing from an illness, that someone will find a job, etc. But there are other prayers which I do not appreciate at all. Let me explain.

Ever since I have made my way out of Christianity (probably 8 years or so now) there have been numerous people who, after hearing of my change, responded by saying - among other things - that they'll "be praying for me." This has often come after they have read some of my writings on religion and spirituality, or after I have commented with a differing view on their status updates.

If I was doing poorly spiritually I would say "Thanks! I appreciate your prayers!" But I am doing better spiritually than I ever have. I have a relationship with the Divine that is more personally authentic and true than it ever was.

My problem with people who say that they'll be praying for me is that they are not saying "I see you, I respect where you're at." What they are really saying is "You don't believe the same things that I believe, therefore you are on the wrong path. I'm praying that you'll come back to the truth."

To me, this is quite offensive, because it suggests that "you" know what is right for me and that you presume I am wrong.

I would never, while praying, pray "God, Jennifer doesn't believe the same things that I do anymore, therefore she is lost. Please bring her back to my way of thinking." Never.

This is the big difference, and I understand it. I believe that each person is on their own spiritual journey and that there are many many ways that we experience God. Evangelical Christians believe that there is one way to God - Jesus - and we all must accept him as Saviour. I understand it, I do. I used to believe it. I was the one praying for so-called "lost souls."

But I have given up my need to be right. I have given up thinking that I know what is truly best for other people's lives. I don't want to convince anyone to believe what I do.

My only job is to love. Catch that? My only job is to love. I realize that that is probably what Christians are claiming to be doing when they say they'll pray for me, but really, if you dig down deeper, they are more concerned that I fit into their belief system.

If I thought it would net results I would say "don't pray for me." But that's most likely futile. So go on and pray for me if you wish, because I know you probably will anyway. I understand where you're coming from. But consider for a moment, if you will, that I truly am doing great just as I am, and i don't have to fit into your belief system.

Mark Andrew