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.