I have noticed an influx of prayer postings on Facebook since the tornado disaster in Oklahoma City yesterday. The deadly tornado swept through miles of populated land and destroyed every building in its path including several schools where many young children and adults lost their lives and countless others were seriously injured. Concerned people from all over the country are sending thoughts and prayers (via Facebook) to the victims in hope God will help them, even though that same God did nothing to protect the victims during the actual tornado.
Perhaps my cynicism is not politically correct this soon after a natural disaster, but my frustration towards the ineffective act of prayer increases quickly when my Facebook news feed is interrupted by a barrage of religious scripture aimed at those who just lost everything they owned. A photograph of the Oklahoma state flag with the words “Pray for the victims” written decoratively across the middle does absolutely nothing to help the victims.
If God listened to prayer, this entire disaster would not have happened in the first place, especially a disaster resulting in the death of innocent children. If God listened to prayer, no child in the world would EVER go hungry or be abused or be neglected. If God listened to prayer, the world would be a peaceful place where everyone lived in a chocolate castle and traveled on a flying unicorn.
Mostly, I just wish people would be realistic in their belief and recognize that “God” is a metaphor for the universe and not a real being. The universe is a powerful and dangerous place and we are sometimes caught in the deadly cross-fire of nature’s fury, nothing more, nothing less. If religious people understood this reality, perhaps more physical help (money, clothes, shelter, etc.) would arrive on the front-line instead of invisible “thoughts and prayers” arriving with the wind.
However, my friend Jacqueline logically explained a reason for prayer when she said, “It is a way of coping when things go wrong, a hope to hope upon, when you want some comfort other than what the physical world you live in can offer.”