Horizontal prayers

It’s the beginning or end of a sermon. The lights are low, the crowd is still. The preacher tells everyone to bow their heads and pray with him. Silence falls on the room. And then…

The preacher starts addressing the crowd in a hushed tone that sounds like a prayer with the notable exception that it is wholly directed at the audience, not God.

You’ve been there right? Surely I’m not the only one. When the preacher or other dually appointed representative takes what is supposed to be a time where we corporately communicate with the Living God as a time to, instead, offer either a miniature sermon or (slightly better) a chance to summarize the main points from their sermon you just sat through.

Perhaps I am growing more ornery as I age (both spiritually and physically) but I’ve decided that if the preacher wishes to address me I will keep my head erect and eyes open until they decide to get around to their actual prayer to God.

As for preachers and anyone else who is guilty of this I wish to implore you; Please refrain from offering horizontal prayers. Let’s cut down on the confusion (and potentially awkward moments if someone like me is in your midst) and keep our prayers vertical.


3 responses to “Horizontal prayers

  1. Wes, long ago, when I was a believer, I felt as you do now. I came to the conclusion that prayer was (or should be) a conversation (thought I now see it as entirely one sided) with God.

    But what I found then, and find even more…?entertaining? now is the insane number of times the person praying will say "God", "Lord", "Father", "Jesus", "Father God", "Lord Jesus", etc, over and over again during the prayer.

    Try counting, (from now on, as I do 🙂 how many times the person praying will refer to God by one of His names (I have counted 20-30 times in a 2 minute prayer – 1-2 God-names every sentence).

    Then imagine how absurd it would sound if I was having a conversation with you and said your name as many times.

    Conclusion: Prayer is a religious tradition (ritual), and the method is passed down from Christian to Christian.

    • I fear you are right in many cases Bob. I often catch myself treating prayer as a smoke signal directed at an impersonal object rather than an active 2-way communication with a personal being.

      And yes, prayer is often learned through tradition. Even the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray (which, itself became a traditional template for many, including myself). However to make the claim that since prayer is learned through tradition and often practiced in an improper fashion it is invalid altogether is to commit a genetic falacy.

      Even if it were true that you could explain the origions of prayer (which I would argue is not entirely accurate) and point out how many people do not speak with God as they would any other personal being is a far cry from proving prayer to be invalid altogether.

  2. Wes – "However to make the claim that since prayer is learned through tradition and often practiced in an improper fashion it is invalid altogether is to commit a genetic falacy. "

    Can you point out the "genetic fallacy" in what I said?

    I have no doubt that prayer (the act of speaking to the supernatural being one believes in) can have an affect, even a positive affect (psychologically) on the one praying and the people listening. Just as meditation can have an affect.

    Wes – "…a far cry from proving prayer to be invalid altogether."

    That was not my intention and could never be "proven" anyway since even if only one prayer uttered over the past 10,000 years was actually answered by a supreme being, that would prove prayer is valid…sort of.

    I welcome any evidence you have that any of YOUR prayers have been answered.

    As for me – 25 years of talking to the God of the bible, and nothing ever happened that I could honestly say was a result of God answering my prayers.

    And I have never been presented one single bit of evidence that in any way indicates that the God of the bible answered the prayers of anyone – ever.

    But, that's just my experience.

Leave a Reply