Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Ah, one of my favorite existential questions.
I’m reading a terrific book (well, I think it’ll be terrific — I’m only on page 9) called “Making Prayer Real” by Rabbi Mike Comins, who asks why prayer is difficult and what to do about it. Since I’m only nine pages in, I haven’t reached his prescription for change. So I thought I’d chime in with my own thoughts about prayer before learning his.
The question “Why pray?” is really a bunch of questions wrapped up in one. There’s “Why pray to a God who doesn’t exist?” and the “Why ask God for stuff if we know he’s not gonna give it to us?” questions. Then there’s the ever popular “Why does God need us to tell him how great he is?” And of course the saddest one, “Why pray to a God who lets bad things happen to good people, like the Holocaust or cancer?”
A couple of years ago, I asked a group of Jewish high schoolers the question in its most generic form(simply, “why pray?) knowing that there were two confirmed atheists in the room. One of them said immediately, “Of course people should pray.” I was a little taken aback; after all, for months Justin had taken every possible opportunity to make it clear that he does not believe in God.
So I asked him why we should pray, and this 15-year-old non-believer said, “We don’t pray because God needs it. We pray because we need it.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
SRQ Jew said…