Monday, September 27, 2010

Why Won't God Smite My Enemies

I've noticed a disturbing rise in visitors arriving on my site searching for "God smite my enemies" including similar variations. I wrote a post last year on imprecatory prayers in the Bible and the fine line between praying for someone's downfall and taking action when God denies our vengeful request. Prayer as a communal act is meant to draw the participants closer to each other and to the divine. The family that prays together stays together. Yet prayers that are meant to bring down some sort of divine justice seems to run contrary to the purpose of prayer: to connect, to bring together. To a lesser degree, prayers directed to change someone else's mind (or sexual orientation like in the previous post) seems to reduces the Infinite to the level of a mere puppet existing only to do our bidding. To me, prayers like these seem to degrade the act of connecting with the divine and only serves to inflate the ego of the participant. I'm not against prayer even though I don't pray myself, I simply have found other ways to connect with man and the universe. We are bursting with creativity, curiosity, and the urge for connection and I truly believe we are hard-wired to bless others. If we feel empathy for our neighbor I can't imagine praying for anything but blessings for them. I suppose that if our empathy is limited to a tribal in-group we can very easily pray for our neighboring tribes downfall. It is fear which drives us into cursing our neighbor and wishing them harm. Fear boils into hatred which pushes us over the edge to commit dreadful acts against humanity. If we are truly praying for our neighbors to be blessed why would we put restrictions on the blessings?


Al said...

I think part of the value of prayer is that it helps us focus on the needs of others. Sure, we usually want something supernatural, but praying about it increases our own awareness of the need, and what we can do about it ourselves.

So, if we are praying for 'divine justice', perhaps one benefit is that it moves us to work towards bringing justice. Not that we should go out and smite our enemies ourselves, but fight against injustice.

captron52 said...

Hi Sam I used to pray but since most of mine went unanswered I wondered why I shuld bother at all. I have since realized that prayer cannot change conditions other people's minds and things like that. I believe prayer can olnly change the mind of the one doing the praying and they have a strong enough belief and the prayer doesnt cause harm to another then it may be "answered" But truly I thnk the only prayer one need pray is just to say THANKS for each experience nad let the other stuff just coem and go as it is apt to anyway! Have yourself a great week

Don said...

I'm with Captron on prayers of thanks. For over 2 years now, my daily morning prayers are prayers of thanksgiving ONLY. As you say Sam, there are many ways to connect to Source. Hopefully, I am doing just that as well.

Doug B said...

Reading the Old Testament, I've no reason to doubt the imprecatory prayers meant exactly what they appear to mean. If they are an embarrassment to some Christians (and I believe they should be), I think it has more to say about how the concept of God has evolved over the centuries.

Eruesso said...

@ Doug- God evolving? Get outta here, you heretic!

@Don, Ronnie, and Al- Thanks for your insight on prayer, all great points.

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