Prayer instead of wisdom.

by K.W. Leslie, 28 April

We see this happen all the time, but the current COVID-19 outbreak is just making it more obvious: We got Christians who ignore science, ignore all medical and professional and government advice, ignore commonsense… because they pray.

They have access to the Almighty, and he can stop every potential bad thing from happening to them. “No weapon formed against me shall prosper” and all that. This being the case, it’s okay if they ignore safety warnings. They got faith. You should have faith like they do.

Bluntly, no you shouldn’t. They’re fools, and that’s not faith. It’s wishful thinking.

Faith is based on a trustworthy person or thing, and Christian faith is of course based on Christ Jesus. Faith is based on evidence, He 11.1 and that evidence is God’s word, whether it comes from the scriptures, from God’s prophets, or from the stuff he tells us when we pray. (All of which oughta jibe with one another.) If it’s not based on any of those things—if it’s based on knowing God is almighty, yet he never said he’d use his almightiness and do stuff—y’got nothing. You might call it faith, and plenty of people will agree with that misrepresentation, but again: It’s wishful thinking.

Did the Holy Spirit say he was gonna defend us against this particular disease? Actually, specifically, personally tell us so? Or did we start with a preexisting desire, and now we’re just appropriating bible verses regardless of context in an attempt to defend ourselves?

TV preacher Kenneth Copeland cursing COVID-19. I know this disease is awful, but I still say there’s a lot more rage in this guy than we oughta see in fruitful Christians. Now This News

Are we actually following Jesus? Or are we hoping, with just the right combination of proof texts, maybe we can get Jesus to follow our lead? If we shout like an angry televangelist, and curse the disease in the LORD’s name, maybe we can obligate the LORD to follow our will, instead of praying we follow his.

I hope you see the difference. One path is wise, and uses prayer correctly. The other is stupid and presumptive.

And we got a lot of stupid Christians out there. The Holy Spirit told ’em nothing when it came to this outbreak. Not that he has nothing to say; they never asked! They just presume he makes them immune—hence all the “No weapon formed against me…” quotes—and continue through life incautious and oblivious. Like a child who never learned to not follow the candy-bearing stranger into the unmarked white van. (Which is why so many Christians are so quick to fall for ridiculous, unproven “remedies”… but that’s another rant.)

For those Christians who think prayer is an almighty substitute for wisdom, caution, planning, patience, study, or for using your brain in general: Obviously it’s not.

Prayer is not a magic cure.

Prayer is talking with God. That’s all. We talk to him; he talks back. We ask for stuff; he says yes or no or “Wait” or “Do this for me first” or “No, you do it.” He grounds us, teaches us, corrects us, and encourages us. It’s like any healthy conversation with the wisest being ever.

Conversely prayer is not a ritual we perform which grants us holiness, good karma, or magic powers—including the power to fight disease. If any power follows prayer, it’s the Holy Spirit who grants it, not prayer in and of itself. Praying doesn’t grant you immunity; the Holy Spirit does that. Praying doesn’t cure illness or banish evil spirits; the Holy Spirit does that. And that’s assuming the Holy Spirit wants to do that. If he hasn’t told you he’s doing that, it’d be stupid to presume.

But of course a lot of Christians are totally presuming. They want that; they can’t imagine why the Holy Spirit wouldn’t want it as well.

If they ever bothered to pray, it’s all been unidirectional. The Spirit told them nothing. (Or maybe he has, but they weren’t listening.) Nonetheless they got out in front of him, and are claiming immunity. They’re screaming “Begone, coronavirus!” like an enraged televangelist, as if the Holy Spirit empowered them to do this; again, without first consulting him. They have no evidence this’ll come to anything. Their “faith” is based on nothing.

Well, other than the belief they prayed, so that’s something.

But that’s karma-based thinking, and God’s kingdom runs on grace. God doesn’t grant us superpowers because we pray. God acts when we trust him to do the right thing, regardless of what we might think is “the right thing,” because frequently he’s got way better ideas than we do.

And until you know what God’s ideas are… it’s best to follow basic commonsense. Like washing your hands, standing 2 meters (or 6 feet) apart from other people, covering your nose and mouth, staying home as much as possible, and prioritizing the weak and the sick over wealth and materialism. And certainly over your favorite politicians’ political priorities.

Likewise any other ailment. If you cut your hand, do you wash out the wound, or do you ignore basic first aid and pray super hard that God’ll keep you from infection, and maybe miraculously make the cut disappear? It’s freakish that Christians will immediately resort to Neosporin and Band-Aids when it comes to small injuries, but when it‘s heart disease or cancer or something else just as life-endangering, they’ll actually postpone surgery or chemotherapy and claim prayer will fix ’em. Unless God definitively answers their requests with yes, no it won’t. And even if God does plan to supernaturally cure ’em, he may want us to go to hospital just so he can cure us right in front of the nurses and doctors, and give their faith (or doubts) a massive jolt. Don’t presume one way or another! Do the commonsense thing. And pray; never stop praying.

Likewise any other safety precaution. Put smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your house! Wear your seat belts! Don’t dive into the shallow end of the pool! In general, use your head, and don’t figure prayer will make up for common stupidity. That’s not what it’s for. It’s to talk with God, and the fact Christians persist in common stupidity kinda reveals they aren’t really praying as much as they claim: If they had that much interaction with the wisest being in the universe, you’d think some of that wisdom woulda rubbed off by now.