A linkbait article showed up on Facebook the other day about an atheist (who called himself, “Not gonna pray”) writing to Andrew W.K., the advice columnist at the Village Voice. The letter was about the foolishness of praying for his brother who had just been diagnosed with cancer.
The linkbait part of the headline focused on the columnist’s response which was, of course, labeled “EPIC.”
Andrew W.K.’s response focused, in part, on the humility prayer requires and the importance of understanding our place in creation. He pointed out that getting on your knees to pray is “about showing respect for the size and grandeur of what we call existence — it’s about being humble in the presence of the vastness of life, space, and sensation, and acknowledging our extremely limited understanding of what it all really means.”
He went on to suggest to “Not gonna pray” that out of respect for his grandmother’s request for prayer, he should get down on his knees and think about his brother (part of creation) as hard as he can. Think about him more than he ever had before. Think about all the wonderful aspects of him and “tell him” how much the letter writer loves him.
The article concluded by mentioning how powerful the response from Andrew W.K. was. This was required to reinforce how “EPIC” it was, and simply good form since about 90% of the linkbait article was lifted directly from the Village Voice (a great example of really poor content curation). Hundreds of comments followed and ads for articles on miracle pills, drunken celebrity moments, and important laws I need to know about in Overland, KS rounded out the article. (All that is why I’m not including a link to the linkbait article; you have enough details to search for it if you want to read it.)
The Linkbait Article on Prayer Got ONE Part Right
Since this is an example of prayer being discussed in social media, I’m jumping on it as a strategic thinking topic ideal for Brainzooming that needn’t be relegated to my long-dormant spirituality blog.
Andrew W.K. DID make an EPIC point in his response about prayer: the absolute importance of humility and the realization that no matter how much we want to think, believe, and fool ourselves, we AREN’T in control of the bigger picture. From trying in fits and starts to develop my own prayer life, that’s an unmistakable conclusion.
The unfortunate part of the response is that he suggests “Not gonna pray” should pray to “creation” (which can do nothing about prayer) instead of the “creator.” He wants “Not gonna pray” to be humbled next to a creation that, quite frankly, as a human being with incredible abilities to think, to reason, to understand his place in creation, and to participate in a spiritual life, he is SUPERIOR to in the most important ways.
It’s one thing to think you are “praying” to your brother, and essentially sending him good thoughts. And I guess that’s become the popular, watered-down version of what prayer is since people are allowed to talk about it without being too offensive or triggering a lawsuit from someone who doesn’t believe in prayer and feels his or her sensibilities are being trampled by others praying.
It’s one thing, but it’s a little tiny portion of prayer.
Prayer to the Creator IS EPIC
At the heart of prayer is demonstrating our humility to the creator (and not aspects of creation) and becoming open, willing, and eager to understand and actively participate in what we CAN understand of God’s plan.
And that does require humility, and a complete sense that we don’t control things as we might like to believe.
While you might think this topic is far afield for Brainzooming, the original linkbait article showed up in my Facebook feed with a well-known social media expert saying it was a great example of why you might like prayer. Since he’s only about 25% right, as may be the case on many topics on which he purports to be an expert, it’s fair game for somebody out here to fill in the other 75% of the answer he missed.
And for my friends who have said to me, “I don’t understand how someone so analytical and so focused on strategic thinking can believe in prayer,” I have one thing to say. My belief doesn’t come from fuzzy feelings. My belief comes from demonstrated evidence on a daily basis: the more I surrender, the more I give up control, the more I look to the creator as the source of direction in my life, the more things make sense in the big picture.
It’s not a feeling for me. It’s a daily proof.
And, in my humility and inadequacies as a person, that proof is EPIC. – Mike Brown
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