One of the hardest, if not the hardest parts about being atheist is addressing prayer for others. With this new age of social networking prayer requests are everywhere. It used to be that prayer-trees were the way to get the word out when someone needed prayer and you were only on that list if you belonged to the church of the person requesting the prayer. And even at that, you were only physically called upon in an emergency situation- like say, a member of the congregation was rushed to the hospital with chest pains or someone was in a severe car accident. But now, if someone needs prayer for ANYTHING, all they have to do is post it on facebook—CALLING ALL PRAYER WARRIORS! Actually you don’t even have to solicit prayer in order to receive it. Just post that you’re having a bad day- stubbed your toe, spilled your coffee, got a flat tire; all those prayer warriors will pray for you and let you know all about it right in the comment section. Furthermore, they’ll then take the credit for praying for you, like they are the ones who talked “god” into getting the tow truck there faster.
For an atheist like me, it’s a bit of a predicament. As I’ve said before, when you move to acceptance, that is there is no god, you realize that prayer is nothing more than “best wishes”- support, encouragement, a way to say, “I care”. But somehow, no matter how sympathetic you feel, telling someone, “I’m sorry your cat died. I know how painful that is– it totally sucks “, sounds far less heroic than “I’m praying that God will wrap His arms around you and give you peace and understanding during this difficult time”. Death, sadness, hardship, pain, frustration: means no time for logic; only prayer will do the trick. Or so it may seem.
What gets my goat more than praying for the down and out is praising “god” for “miracles”. Come on people, take some credit and give credit where credit is due! YOU decided to take your kid to the doctor because you could tell that he wasn’t feeling good and the doctor did his job and prescribed treatment to make that kid all better. That doctor went to school for 12 years to learn how to do that. If you think “god” made your kid better then I’m guessing you could have opted to not go to the doctor, prayed really hard (asked your friends on facebook to do the same) and saved yourself the co-pay.
I could make a joke here about “god” reading facebook, but I won’t. Actually I guess I kind of just did. I mean come on! Do you get brownie points with Jesus if you praise him on your social network or choice?