Two Questions About Faith That I Hope Someone Answers

Question One: Why do we pray?

I know that seems like a horrible thing to say, but this question has bothered me for so long that I cannot continue leaving it unasked. So, instead I will be honest: Prayer seems wrong to me. Every time I pray for someone or something, I feel like I’m trying to influence the Almighty in one way or another. I feel like I’m trying to wheedle my way into a place of power with something as pathetic as a few peasant-like words, and that seems…immoral. Do we as mere humans even have the ability to change anything as magnificent as the Mind of God with something as insignificant as a few whispered sentences? And if we do, then does that mean we did not trust God enough to do what is “right” without our influence? By praying for something are we saying that God would not have acted otherwise? Are we not doubting Him by praying for whatever, rather than simply saying “Thy will be done?”

People doubt the Face book posts that declare “If ________ gets 20000 likes, her cancer will go away,” but is prayer not similar? Do our prayers not silently imply “Oh, Lord, I didn’t think You were going to do this, so let me ask you to…?” or “Heavenly Father, I’m not sure you were aware, but _____ really needs your help.” Does prayer not question God’s omniscience when we attempt to bring something to His attention? Does it not imply that we doubt Him and feel we must give advice or ask for favors?

Or, worse yet, is prayer simply a way to help us feel like we’ve done something worthwhile in a situation where we really did nothing at all? A reason for us to go to bed thinking “I’m a good person” while the people we pray for still starve or suffer? I honestly don’t understand the concept of prayer, and that bothers me.

That’s why I’m hoping that someone with a  deeper understanding will help me out with this, because I feel like I’ve been in a crisis for so many years now, and I’ve never really been able to express why the most universal part of religion seemed so…wrong to me.

Question Two: Why would I desire to go to Heaven? Hear me out on this one. If there are only two choices, Heaven and Hell, then I understand choosing the one over the other. That seems obvious. But no. My question is: why would I prefer Heaven over the life I have here on Earth? I know that Earth has conflict and pain and so many horrible things, and I understand that Heaven lacks these negativities. I recognize that Heaven is a utopia where there is no evil, no hurt, no pain, no sorrow. But by lacking these things, I feel that Heaven must be lacking in a lot of other areas as well.

Does not our conflict give us ambition? Does not our pain inspire growth? Do the horrors on Earth not inspire me to help others—to try and improve a world that is so far from that Utopia, and yet so full of that beautiful, glorious concept of hope?

This is what scares me: If Heaven is perfect, then there cannot be improvement. There cannot be excitement, anticipation, or hope.  If Heaven is an eternity without time or end, I cannot see a reason for drive or progress. If there is no change (because why change something that is perfect) then I cannot see any reason for ambition. A world formed by complacency and sloth has no need for improvement, strength, or magnificent, wonderful change. I don’t see myself doing anything in Heaven’s eternity. Would I even have a reason to help others or bring them joy if everyone is already happy? Would any of the things that make me me still be present in that stagnant glory? That is what frightens me most about death, and I have never been able to shake it.

Hopefully someone else will know and tell me more than: “These things will not bother you after death.” Because living an eternity where I don’t even understand the concept of ambition seems almost worse than an eternity where I know it but cannot attain it. I have never been a huge supporter of ignorance is bliss.

So there you go. Those are two of the big questions that keep me up at night. As I think about it, I don’t even know if these fears have made me into a better or worse person. On one hand, they have separated me from a million other Christians who don’t seem to understand what I’m asking about when I voice my concerns. I often feel alone. An outcast. On the other hand, discontent with prayer means that I have never told a person “I will pray for you.” Instead I am more likely to ask “How can I help you?” “What can I do to help you through this?” or “Do you need to sleep on my spare bed?” My terror of Heaven means that I do not wait idly by for an afterlife in a “perfect” but apparently immobile eternity, because there is so much I can do on earth that seems more fulfilling and more beautiful than that. And when the end comes, I do not know what I will do. Apparently, I don’t have a choice in the matter anyway. Maybe that in itself is a blessing.

So, unknown readers, I suppose I turn to you for help. Maybe there’s someone reading this that can answer these questions and put my mind at ease so I, and others like me, need no longer live in doubt. I look to you for guidance, because these things that are meant to offer peace and tranquility seem only to offer uncertainty and dread. These are questions for a greater one than I, an thus I leave them in your capable hands.

-T

Advertisements

18 thoughts on “Two Questions About Faith That I Hope Someone Answers

  1. these are all great questions.i see where you’re coming from with asking them. i have not been raised in church but became a christian and was baptized in Afghanistan while serving in OEF . i prayed daily and not just the normal hands folded in prayer dear god and amen, i had conversations. i would thank the lord and ask for guidance. i think the facebook post might inspire prayer from those who like them and its not a bad thing but to me they are not the same thing. you should not feel guilt from praying Psalms 145:18 The LORD is near to all them that call on him, to all that call on him in truth.

    Like

  2. This is probably completely unhelpful but I’ve been through the same thing myself. I tend to say to people when they ask me about my faith that I’m agnostic, and I written a bit about how faith and I are on very bizarre and unsure terms. Yet I still find myself praying, especially recently since my Grandmother was diagnosed with dementia. I don’t want to give up on a higher power but I don’t have the strength of faith to put a name on it, yet I still find myself praying mainly because I have no other form of action. I think that is what prayer is to me, a way of venting to someone or something that has no judgement, but simply listens. As I said at the start, I’m probably not the right person to really be giving advice on this, but I hope there was something in there that helps.

    Like

  3. I have definitely struggled with very similar questions about prayer for my whole life. In my own journey, when I identified as Christian and belonged to a church, I felt that praying was an obligation that I didn’t really understand, and I felt guilty for questioning it in many of the same ways that you have described so eloquently. The only prayers that felt real and right to me were wordless, time spent thinking, sort of rambling meditations, always ending with a “thank-you.” Now that I don’t identify with any church, I have a different sort of conversation with God, walking in nature, meditating, but again, always the best when I’m saying thank-you. I don’t know if this is helpful, as a sort of outside opinion. I think the main thing I wanted to share was that I have deeply felt the same way about prayer and wonder if perhaps it is best done in the way that you see fit rather than a prescribed way. Praying in your closets, in secret, might mean something like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In the Bible, Jesus himself says to pray in secret. And the wonderful thing about God being everywhere is that he can always hear you. Seeing as he created everything, I don’t think he would feel differently about words said in church and words said in the bathroom. Yes, I went there.
      Somewhere it says to enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. When we’re approaching God with our requests/prayers, there is a proper way to approach. Being merciful and loving as He is, I don’t think he gets bent out of shape over it.

      Like

  4. In that comment, I didn’t go into descriptions of why I say my thoughts and rumination were similar, because you said it so well. But I wondered the same thing about making demands of a God who was all-present and powerful, who knew so much more than I understood about people’s situations and my own, about the presumptuousness of it all. I hope that added explanation helps, in case it sounded as though I missed the point. Thank you again for sharing your post and thoughts. -jessi

    Like

  5. A quick story on my background: I didn’t like ‘Christianity’, didn’t understand it, didn’t get along with avid ‘Christians’ (I know now that it’s because they didn’t live it), and so practiced witchcraft and such until I was Born again about 3 years ago. From this perspective, I’ll address your questions:
    Why do we pray?
    I’m so glad you asked this question! I used to wonder this myself. My husband is the only Christain who helped me to have Faith, and he helped me to approach the Bible from the heart. Start with this- God made us in his likeness and in his image. What do we want most? To be loved. What does God want? To be loved, and that is why we are here. Jesus says, ‘Who of you when your son asks you for a snake would give him a serpent?’ (quoting from memory, pardon any inaccuracies). As our father, he wants to make us happy. He wants for us to ask him for things so that he can provide. Jesus says that the Father knows what we want, all we need to do is ask. That is why we pray.
    Also consider Genesis 18:22-33, when Abraham pleads for Sodom. God, being all knowing, allowed for Abraham to ‘change God’s mind’ about wiping out the city. If God was so easily controlled by the words of man, he wouldn’t have told Abraham about his plan.
    Why would I desire to go to Heaven?
    On your question in regards to Heaven, this is harder to address because, even though Heaven is mentioned in the Bible here and there, I realized after reading it cover-to-cover three times or so that it gives very little information about Heaven, with most of the focus being on here with the living. The glorious thing about heaven is being with the Creator. When you get close to him and you feel the Spirit moving within you, you feel this high and hunger to be closer to him. If you know this feeling, you don’t question the motivation of being that much closer to him. And in regards to the change on Earth and the lack of it in Heaven- I don’t think there is a lack. I feel like there is a lot more to the story that we’re not ready to hear that didn’t get included in our ‘guidebook to the Universe’ (aka Bible).
    Oh my gosh I’m so sorry this is so wordy…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Why would I skip over such a thoughtful reply because it was “too lengthy?” Your reply was lovely and gave me a lot more to think about. Thank you so much! Also, have you SEEN some of my posts? “Too lengthy” isn’t a phrase I understand.

      Like

  6. Pingback: Words | ch4rl13sm1th

  7. Pingback: Faith: What I *Really* Trust | Mortal Asphalt

  8. Pingback: On Marriage: Gay and Otherwise | Mortal Asphalt

  9. I can’t really count how many times people have told me that I don’t pray right, and I have heard the words, “it doesn’t work that way”, but for me the way it works is conversation as I am not the only one saying here. For me though, I have a bit of an attitude with my higher power and am relying heavy on the notion that “he” has a sense of humor. I don’t so much ask him to do anything, as much as I say things like, “Umm, what the hell was that all about?” or “Wow, you really are sadistic you know that?” On a really bad day I have been known to say “Well smart guy, why don’t you get off your dead ass and do something?” Now many people say that I’m doing it wrong, but it seems to help as much as anything else does, and the fact is, if my higher power made me, then he must like my attitude. So there you have it. We are all made into individuals for a reason. How boring would it be for God if we were all the same anyway, and if he wanted any of us to do it perfectly, he would have made us perfect. So I guess there is one thing I ask for, that would be strength.
    As far as heaven goes, consider that maybe heaven is individual as well. Some people want things easy, so that is heaven for them. Neither you or I want easy because we just wouldn’t be happy that way, so heaven for us would be something different, a place where there is something to work towards. Hey, that is the best I’ve got.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a lovely, thorough, and thought-provoking response. I agree with you that God/dess must have a sense of humor. Otherwise, I cannot imagine being able to ever connect with him/her. I don’t know if you can experience love without experiencing humor and joy.

      An individual Heaven… I like that idea. A lot. I can also see people going off the rails if they heard someone say that. Since each person’s version of paradise is different, then it makes sense to me an eternal paradise would make arrangements per individual.

      Thank you so much for your response!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: On Faith: What I *Really* Trust | Mortal Asphalt

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s