I have been praying to God ever since I first understood the concept of a deity. Although I have struggled through life with my acceptance of and belief in the religion I was force fed as a child, the praying has always stayed with me – on an almost every day basis. In some way or some form or for some reason, it seems, I find myself praying to a God I am not sure I believe in.
Over the years, some of the things I have prayed for or prayed against have worked out in my favor. Other things didn’t quite work out the way I had hoped. So, I wondered, was this proof that my prayers are sometimes answered or simply the law of averages? It really didn’t matter, I was programed to pray and so pray I do.
This has been going on pretty routinely for over 50 years; so, imagine my surprise when, for the first time last night, God talked back to me!
I may not get this exactly right, but, in essence, this is what He had to say:
(I am not sure what font to type God’s words in, so I will just keep on with the default.)
“Joe, Joe, Joe. I have been listening to you for all your life. And, whereas I do enjoy your thoughts; your words; and your sentiments; I find it is time for me to respond.
You really do pray a lot for lots of things. Mostly good and humane things. Mostly with a pure and caring heart. But, son, you need to stop doing so much praying and start doing more stuff on your own. I am not up here to make your life easier and to do things for you.
When you were young, instead of praying for that bicycle, you should have been doing chores to earn money towards buying it. You could have cut more lawns, washed more cars, got a paper route, sold lemonade, or many other things other young boys were doing to earn money for the things that they wanted.
When you were in high school and prayed to me to help you do well in your wrestling matches, you should have, instead, been working harder at practice; spent more time on your conditioning; spent more time in the weight room; and studied harder on the art of wrestling.
In college, when you prayed for help on your mid-terms and finals, you should have, instead, spent more time studying and less time partying – I think that is something you already know.
Even when you pray on behalf of others – you should be doing more.
Instead of praying I would help old Mrs. Conner at the end of your street, you should have gotten up off your butt and walked down to the end of the street and looked in on her yourself. You could have offered to go to the store for her, pick up her prescriptions or simply keep her company in her final years.
When you prayed for me to care for the starving children around the world, you should have been volunteering to help out yourself or donating more money towards this cause. If you funneled all the money you spent on unnecessary junk food and extra meals you consumed throughout the years towards charities that help feed and clothe the poor, you could have saved many of the children you prayed that I would save.
Instead of praying that I cure your family, friends and acquaintances that you knew were ill or dying, you should have been visiting them in the hospital or writing them letters or providing assistance to their loved ones to help ease their pain.
Prayer is not the vehicle for you to be lazy and yet gain the rewards. Prayer is not a means to have me do for others what you have the power and ability to do yourself.
I am glad that you talk to me, but you have been granted the ability and means to do so much more by yourself and yet you choose to take the easy way out and pray to me – the God that I know you are confused about. Please, do me a favor, and before you pray, ask yourself, ‘Have I exhausted all avenues available to me to achieve the result I want God to perform?’
If, after you have done everything you can possibly do, then I may be more willing to consider what it is you ask for.
And now, my son, you can wake up.”
I sat up quickly in my bed, sweating and confused. Was I just dreaming? Was that really God talking to me? Then, somewhere from deep inside, either from my conscious or a left-over message from the Almighty Himself, I thought (or heard): “What does it matter? Whether it was God or not – the message is valid and something I probably already knew.”
“Well,” I said to myself, in prayer, “I will give it my best. But, is it okay if we still talk? It kind of helps to give me strength?”
I will take that as a, “Yes”.