The thing that has my blood boiling right now is the misuse of five simple words: “I will pray for you.” There is a time to tell someone you will pray for him. But there is also a time to avoid telling someone you will pray for him. Since so many people seem to use these words as a weapon, rather than a source of comfort, I thought a column on the topic was warranted. I would ask you guys to pray for me while I write it but if you’re reading this column then it’s already written. Duh! (But I still pray that you enjoy it!).
A few days ago, I was having a disagreement with a liberal Christian with feminist leanings. She objected to an analogy I made about government entitlements. Specifically, she objected to my assertion that people cannot be expected to value things if they did not have to work to attain them. I compared that with expecting a man to respect a woman who gives him sex without making him work for it. She didn’t like the metaphor. So she responded with an ad hominem attack laced with mockery. And she topped it all off with an offer to pray for me.
I really didn’t intend to write about it but, unfortunately, it was the second such offer of prayer in a twenty-four hour period. Another feminist wrote previously to criticize my stance on so-called abortion rights. She said that Jesus would have compassion on women, which included allowing them to have abortions. She never addressed the issue of whether the unborn were persons entitled to compassion, which would preclude ripping them from limb to limb. But she did offer me assurance by saying "I will pray for you."
Of course, not all of the people who offer to pray for me are feminists – or even women. One homosexual Christian reader wrote to tell me he has forgiven me for opposing same-sex marriage. And, guess what? He’s promised to pray for me! I don’t know for sure what all these feminist and homosexual prayers sound like. I can only speculate. So here goes:
"Dear Jesus, please help Mike Adams to understand that it is your will for people to be given things without working for them. And that includes easy sex outside of marriage. Jesus, soften his heart and help him to understand that promiscuity often leads to healthy respectful and wholesome relationships. I pray this in Jesus' holy name, Amen."
"Dear Jesus, please help Mike Adams to support abortion on demand. Lord let him have compassion on the abortion doctors who earn their living and feed their families by performing abortions. Let him see that dismembering babies is the will of Jesus – that dismembering babies is the embodiment of Christ-like compassion. In fact, it is the duty of the body of Christ. Let him also have compassion for those who sell the body parts of dismembered babies on the black market. Let him see that killing unborn children is truly God's will for mankind. Oops! I meant to say 'person-kind.' In Jesus name I pray, Amen."
"Dear Jesus. Please let Mike Adams learn to set aside antiquated notions of marriage from your outdated Books of Scripture. Let him get over the ridiculousness of Leviticus (and Romans) and open his heart to sodomy, to same-sex marriage, and to equality for all. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen."
It would be funny if it weren't so pathetic. And it would not be quite as pathetic if it were something that only liberal Christians do. That's right conservative Christians, this kind of nonsense comes from our side of the aisle, too. And it is always pompous and hurtful regardless of the political affiliation of the Christian doing it.
When, right in the middle of a political dispute, we make an offer to pray for someone here is what we are really saying to them: "I have a special relationship with God that you do not have. God and I are very tight. And we want to straighten you out and align you with our will. Since you are too dense to understand our position on this political issue we are going to use the Holy Spirit to impart upon you the knowledge that you cannot seem to absorb through your thick skull. We hate to do this. But God and I both know what's best for you."
So whether you are conservative or liberal please stop using "I will pray for you" as a political weapon during political disputes. Calm down. Resolve your differences to the best of your ability. And when reason takes over ask the person with whom you have had the dispute this polite question: "May I pray for you?"
If they decline your offer of prayer then pray for them anyway. And, while you're at it, pray for yourself. Pray for the wisdom to use prayer as a source of comfort, not as a political weapon when you're losing a political argument.