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Sincere Prayer To God

I get into a lot of conversations with Christians and often times when the Christian gets backed into an intellectual corner and their ideas have been shown to be unreasonable, illogical, and flat out ridiculous, they throw up a brick wall. One of the most common brick wall tactics is to insist that I open my heart and sincerely pray to God to reveal him self to me.

I remember the first time I heard this was my freshman year of college. While I had already been an atheist for awhile, I wasn’t really all that vocal about it until that year. It was that year that I really started to learn about Christianity in a more serious way. My mentor in my education at this time was a Messianic Jew (Jew for Jesus) who was a few years older than I and had a great deal of knowledge that most fundamentalists I knew did not know. He was also a great friend and a very compassionate person.

In any case, I remember one night we were discussing religion and I was questioning him on some aspects of his belief. He turned to me and told me that if I really wanted evidence, I have to ask God for it. He told me that I have to humble myself with an open heart and sincerely ask God for a sign. I remember he even quoted some Bible verse about this.

So that night as I was out for my usual 2am walk, I did just that. I got down on my knees and sincerely asked God for a sign. The most amazing thing happened after that… nothing.

The next day, I reported back to my friend and he told me that God will reveal himself to me on his time. He has a plan for me. But what about the Bible verse? What about the sincere prayer? What about the evidence? He told me to try it again in a few days.

Well, I guess if you ask for a sign enough times sooner or later sometime might happen that a human mind might interpret as a sign. Maybe it will start to rain or maybe it will stop raining. Maybe you’ll bump into someone you have a crush on or something. At this point, it becomes a game of statistics. If you pray to God enough at least one time some mild event might happen to coincide with your prayer. That’s the sign.

Believe it or not, I have tried the “sincere prayer” gag a few times after that too at the prompting of religious friends but still no booming voice from the sky. Maybe I have my expectations too high. But then again, how can I be expecting too much from God?

When I have informed other Christians about my experience with the sincere prayer, I have sometimes been met with the accusation that I wasn’t sincere enough. This is a great excuse, but at the time I really don’t think I could have been any more sincere.

Now of course, I can’t play this game anymore. At this point in my life, I have learned too much to believe in some ancient Canaanite deity worshiped by a small band of desert wanders that wrote down a bunch of stories after a long game of “whisper down the lane,” and then edited those stories multiple times. No, at this point in my life, I can’t sincerely pray to God any more than I could sincerely pray to Valdimort.

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  • http://www.marthaknox.com Martha Knox

    Nice post. I was raised Christian and before I began questioning my faith at around age 12, I used to pray quite a bit. It was such an integral part of my life that after I lost my faith I had to “pretend” to pray by talking to the constellation Orion just so I had something to do with those thoughts that I wanted to communicate to some celestial being. In all those years of sincere prayer, I never had any religious experiences. I wasn’t expecting one either, although had I had one it probably woulnd’t have been so easy for me to completely lose my faith as soon as I found out about other world religions and no longer had a reason to just assume Christianity was true because it was taught to me. I especially liked your last line. I reached that point some time ago, and it is one of the reasons I don’t get into religious debates any more. I’m just so far past being able to take the beliefs seriously that I don’t trust myself to speak to someone one on one without sounding entirely condescending and just pissing them off. But yeah, Jesus as a divine being has about as much believability to me as the tooth fairy.

  • David Evans

    Yes, you put up a good imitation of an intellectual, but at this point anyone who can’t spell Voldemort just isn’t in touch with the Zeitgeist

  • Greg

    Don’t ask the Lord for a “sign”, ask the Lord to open your eyes and heart to the Truth of His Word. What you need to embrace is the Gospel. The Gospel is about what Christ has done on behalf of sinners. His shed blood on the cross for sin and His merit are what need to be recognized and embraced from the heart (Romans 10:9-10) This is what it means to Truly seek the LORD.