Tithing: Enjoying one’s firstfruits with God.

by K.W. Leslie, 28 August
TITHE taɪð noun One-tenth.
2. verb. Set aside a tenth of something, either as savings or as a charitable donation.
3. verb. Give [either a tenth, or any variable amount] to our church.

Most Christians define tithe as a donation to one’s church. But what we donate is pretty variable. Might be $20 a week, or $100 a month, or two hours of volunteer work (i.e. cleaning the bathrooms, vacuuming the carpets, sterilizing the toys in the nursery… you do sterilize the toys regularly, right? Babies put ’em in their mouths). It’s whatever we regularly donate, although some of us aren’t all that regular about it.

But for small churches, what we collectively donate isn’t always enough to cover our church’s expenses. Nor does it allow us to give pastors a stipend, or do much charity work… or pay the utilities or rent. Which is why Christian preachers so often feel they should remind us the word “tithe” comes from the Saxon teóða, “tenth”: It means a tenth of something. And that something would be your income. Whatever your job pays you, your tithe should equal a tenth of it—and that’s what you oughta be contributing to your church.

And you need to bring your whole tithe to church. ’Cause it says so in the bible.

Malachi 3.8-12 KWL
8 “Does any human cheat God like all of you cheat me? You say, ‘How do we cheat you?’
In tithes. In offerings. 9 You’ve cursed yourselves. The whole nation is cheating me.
10 Bring your whole tithe to my treasury: There’s unclean food in my house!
Please test me in this,” says the LORD of War. See if I don’t open heaven’s floodgates and pour down blessing till you overflow.
11 I rebuke the blight for you: It won’t ruin your crops. It won’t kill the vines in your field,” says the LORD of War.
12 “Every nation will call you happy, and consider you a land of delight,” says the LORD of War.

Most preachers only quote verses 8-10, and don’t bother with verses 11-12. They should. These verses reveal the context of what the LORD actually means by מַעֲשֵׂר/mahašer, “tithe.” He’s not talking about Christians who are stingy with donations: He’s talking about Hebrews who didn’t contribute their crops to their community food closets. Old Testament tithing was about food.

I know; you might never have heard this idea before. You’d be surprised how many Christian pastors are totally clueless about this fact. I grew up Christian, and hadn’t heard any of this stuff till my thirties. But it’s all in your bible, hiding in plain sight.

Start listening to God.

by K.W. Leslie, 27 August

When we pray, we’re not just meant to talk at God. We’re supposed to listen to him as well.

Which some of us are pretty good at. Others, not so much. We’ll do all the talking, then patiently listen for God to say something… and detect nothing. He mighta said something, but we’re not sure. Can’t tell. Why not? Simple: We got used to not listening to him.

Y’see, when we heard him in the past, it was usually because he was poking us in the conscience. We were sinning. Or about to sin. Or otherwise not resisting temptation. We figured sin would be way more fun, more satisfactory, more appropriate—everybody else is doing it—so we stifled our consciences. In so doing, we stifled the Holy Spirit who speaks to us through our consciences, and tells us, “Hey, quit it!” We blocked him out.

We’re so used to blocking him out, it’s hard to go back to not blocking him out. In fact the behavior you’ll see among many a Christian is to try to hear God when it’s convenient, and try to not hear him when it’s not. We wanna sin, so we basically try to gouge out our spiritual ears… and then wonder why they don’t seem to work anymore!

Well God can cure physical ears, so of course he can also cure spiritual ones. We need to relearn how to listen to him. So how do we start doing that? Duh: Quit ignoring your conscience. Stop sinning. Resist temptation.

Can’t follow Jesus where he’s going.

by K.W. Leslie, 26 August

John 7.25-36.

Back a few verses, Jesus told his opponents,

John 7.19-20 KWL
19 “Moses didn’t give you the Law, and none of you does the Law: Why do you seek to kill me?”
20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill you?”

Then he objected to how they violated Sabbath to practice ritual circumcision, yet when he cured people who couldn’t walk, this was somehow worse? Jn 7.21-24 But y’know, even though Jesus had a point, and made it very logically, humans aren’t logical. They did want him dead, Jn 5.17-18 and would eventually kill him.

Meanwhile some of Jesus’s listeners—who apparently weren’t aware the Judean leadership wanted him dead—debated whether that was truly so. Remember, in the first-century Roman Empire there was no such thing as freedom of speech and religion: You could be beaten or killed for heresy. Yet nobody censured Jesus from teaching in temple, so the question came up: Maybe Jesus was somebody important. Like Messiah.

John 7.25-26 KWL
25 Some of the Jerusalemites were saying, “Isn’t this who people seek to kill?”
26 “Look, he speaks boldly, and nobody says a response to him.”
“Maybe the rulers truly know this is Messiah!”

“Maybe the rulers truly know this is Messiah,” some speculated—for if Jesus is really Messiah, the Pharisees taught those who opposed Messiah would be destroyed with the breath of his lips. Is 11.4 (Paul later swiped this idea for 2 Thessalonians 2.8, and John transforms it into a sharp sword in Revelation 19.11.) Messiah would vanquish his opponents, take his throne, and rule the world. So if the Judean senate suspected Jesus is Messiah, it explains why they’d be hesitant to arrest him: They didn’t wanna get vanquished. They were hoping he’d vanquish the Romans, but certainly not them. So they let him be.

Others weren’t so sure he’s Messiah:

John 7.27 KWL
“But we know where this man is from.
If Messiah ever comes, nobody knows where he’s from!”

Y’might not be familiar with this idea, “Nobody knows where Messiah’s from.” This is the only time we see it in the New Testament. Not all Pharisees believed it—as proven elsewhere in the gospels, including this very chapter. In John 7.41-42, some Judeans stated they know Messiah comes from Bethlehem, Judea. Not Jerusalem; not Nazareth nor Capernaum; not the Galilee. And of course when the magi sought Messiah, the head priests and scribes pointed Herod to Bethlehem. Mt 2.4-5, Mc 5.2 They did so know where Messiah’s from.

But some Pharisees believed they couldn’t know. Not till after Elijah’s second coming, when he’d identify Messiah for everyone. Then they’d know… but till then, Messiah would be hidden, invisible, unseen, secret. The idea loosely comes from the apocryphal book 2 Esdras, also called 4 Ezra, in which Ezra had this conversation with God:

2 Esdras 13.51-52 KJV
51 Then said I, O Lord that bearest rule, shew me this: Wherefore have I seen the man coming up from the midst of the sea? 52 And he said unto me, Like as thou canst neither seek out nor know the things that are in the deep of the sea: even so can no man upon earth see my Son, or those that be with him, but in the day time.

In St. Justin Martyr’s dialogue with the Jewish philosopher Trypho, apparently Trypho likewise believed Messiah was hidden.

“But Christ—if he has indeed been born, and exists anywhere—is unknown, and does not even know himself, and has no power until Elias come to anoint him, and make him manifest to all.” Dialogue with Trypho 8.4

But like I said, not every Pharisee believed it. Christians today have differing theories about the End Times; so did Pharisees. Those who believed in a secret Messiah, figured knowing Jesus was from anywhere meant he couldn’t be Messiah. The rest probably didn’t know Jesus was born in Bethlehem but raised in Nazareth. Not that either group wanted Jesus to be Messiah: He cured people on Sabbath, y’know.

Targums: Pharisee translations of the bible.

by K.W. Leslie, 22 August

The original New Testament was written in Greek. That’s because in the eastern Mediterranean, where Christianity originated, Greek was what Latin became in medieval Europe, and what English now is worldwide: Everybody’s second language, used because it’s everybody else’s second language. (Unless it’s your first. Greek’s my third.) When Alexander of Macedon took a shot at conquering the world in the 300s BC, he Grecianized everything he could find, left Greek colonies everywhere, and Greek became the language you needed to know for commerce and diplomacy.

But before that, it was Aramaic, the language of the Assyrian Empire and the neo-Babylonian Empire, both of which conquered northern and southern Israel in the 700s and 500s BC. The Hebrew-speaking Israelis were scattered throughout these empires, and when their descendants returned to Palestine, they spoke Aramaic. (And, after Alexander came through Palestine, Greek too.) Only scribes knew Hebrew.

Okay, but their bible (our Old Testament), with the exception of a few chapters here and there, was in Hebrew. If only scribes knew Hebrew, how were the rest of the population to know what was in the bible? Obviously the same way we do: Translation. The scribes’ usual practice was to read the bible in the original, then translate as they went, clause by clause.

And at some point, certain Pharisees decided to transcribe the scribes’ translations. Hey, if you don’t know Hebrew, and don’t always have a scribe around to translate bible for you, stands to reason you’d want your own copy available.

The scribes discouraged this. They didn’t want their off-the-cuff translations to become permanent translations, or to be considered official translations. Especially since they were in the bad habit of paraphrasing—adding details to the scriptures which aren’t in the text. Sometimes to clarify things, like when you’re telling bible stories to children or newbies… and sometimes to bend the text to suit their theology. I’ll explain that practice in more detail in a bit. In any event scribes didn’t want their alterations recorded for posterity.

But they were, ’cause we got ’em. The first written copies of these Aramaic translations appeared in the mid-first century. We call them targums, or targumím if you prefer the proper Aramaic plural ending. The Aramaic and Hebrew word תִּרְגּוּם/targúm simply means interpretation.

Aramaic-speaking Jews in Yemen still refer to targums because, duh, that’s their language. Aramaic-speaking Christians prefer the Peshitta, an Syriac translation of the Old and New Testaments first produced in the second century. But Christian scholars refer to the targums for two reasons: We wanna know how first-century Pharisees interpreted bible; and, like the Septuagint and Vulgate, we wanna compare ancient translations to the ancient texts to see how they interpreted it.

But because targums are Pharisee paraphrases, we study them with a certain amount of caution. You recall Jesus didn’t always agree with the Pharisees’ spin on the scriptures. Neither should we.

When people believe Christianity is a myth.

by K.W. Leslie, 21 August

Christianity is an historical religion. It’s based on a man named Jesus of Nazareth, who lived and breathed and died in the first century of our era. He proclaimed God’s kingdom and described what it’s like, informed us no one could get round him to the Father, Jn 14.6 and despite being crucified by the Romans, physically came back from the dead and sent his followers to proclaim this kingdom on his behalf.

If none of this stuff literally happened—if it’s pure mythology, a fiction based on cultural archetypes instead of true events, which reflects humanity’s fondest wishes, meant to teach greater truths and bigger ideas instead of being taken as fact—then we Christians have a huge problem. See, when we join God’s kingdom we’re kinda expected to change our entire lives based on its principles. We’re also promised Jesus is gonna come back to personally rule this kingdom. But if Christianity’s mythological, then Jesus won’t do any such thing, ’cause he’s dead.

Oh, and if he’s dead, we Christians don’t get resurrected and go to heaven either. ’Cause that’d be part of the myth too. We’ve been had, and are massively wasting our time: Not only is there no kingdom of God, but we die, stay dead, and go nowhere.

1 Corinthians 15.17-19 KWL
17 If Christ isn’t risen, your faith has no foundation.
You’re still in your sins, 18 and those who “sleep in Christ” are gone.
19 If hope in Christ only exists in this life, we’re the most pathetic of all people.

Yet believe it or don’t, there are people who identify themselves as Christian, and believe the bible is mostly, if not entirely, mythology. You’ll find them among the Unitarians, though most of them don’t bother with organized religion. You’ll find them among cultural Christians, who approve of Christianity’s trappings but don’t really believe any of it; who go to church to feel spiritual, but think we Christians are silly for literally believing any of this stuff.

We need more people of prayer.

by K.W. Leslie, 20 August

I read an old essay, written in the late 1800s, probably adapted from a then-recent sermon, entitled “Men of Prayer Needed.” Which is true; men of prayer are needed. Women of prayer too. Hence my title isn’t gender-specific. We need Christians to pray, period.

The point of the essay is God uses people who pray. He doesn’t so much need our skillsets, because God can either develop our skillsets for his purposes, or perform mighty acts of power despite our skillsets. (Never underestimate God’s skillset!) He doesn’t so much need our deep and through bible study, our intellect, our education, our knowledge, our wisdom; not that we shouldn’t pursue wisdom and get knowledge, but God’s knowledge and wisdom is far greater, and he can achieve way more through what he alone knows. He doesn’t need our ability to preach: We could present an extremely simple, even pathetic sort of sermon, and because the Holy Spirit’s already been working on our audience, thousands can come forward to embrace Christ Jesus despite our inability.

We’re not gonna grow God’s kingdom through what our abilities can do anyway. God’s gonna grow his own kingdom. We just need to pray.

What the essayist didn’t get into is why all this stuff is gonna happen because we pray. Maybe it’s because he assumed we’d already know. But when you look at all the Christians who consume prayer books, yet talk so much rubbish about the power we receive through prayer, what they’re sure it does, but what their lives don’t demonstrate at all… I don’t think it’s all that self-evident.

Too many of these petitioners give us the idea that if we pray, and persist in prayer, God’s gonna reward all the Brownie points we’ve been racking up on our knees, on our faces, with our hands lifted high… and give us what he owes us based on how much and how fervently we’ve been begging him for stuff. In so doing, they’re teaching karma. It’s not mere works righteousness; it’s more like prayer-righteousness.

Even this essay gives us the idea talking at God, just because we talk at God, is gonna make us holy. It’s gonna transform us. Make us more saintly. Develop our character. The more time we spend pouring out our hearts to God, the mightier we’re gonna grow.

Okay, true: This sort of growth might happen. And it might not.

Because when we pray, we have to understand what’s going on. We’re not just unidirectionally talking at God. We’re not just telling him what we want him to do, begging for stuff, and spending so much time focusing on our needs and lack and wants, we recognize how pathetic and sad we are, and how great he is. Prayer isn’t an exercise in debasement, crawling and scraping before a God who doesn’t care to answer us, whose answers are shrouded in mystery.

Prayer is talking with God. We ask questions. He gives answers. We act on his answers: We take leaps of faith, accept the Holy Spirit’s encouragement or correction, submit to his wisdom, repent where necessary, and obey our LORD. That’s where the growth comes from.

If we didn’t get any answers, either ’cause we’re not listening, or we don’t know how to listen, or we presume these can’t be God’s answers because we hate those answers: Such prayers are exactly what the antichrists claim prayer is: We’re talking to no one, and psyching ourselves into thinking it’s good for us. We’re not gonna develop wisdom or faith; we’re not gonna practice the humility mandatory of anyone who truly follows Jesus; we’re not gonna grow. At all.

The church needs its Christians to pray. The world needs its Christians to pray. Because when we’re truly talking with God, we’re gonna follow God.

And as things currently stand, we don’t pray. Or we pray, like pagans, to nothing, expecting no answers, and “follow God” without having actually heard from God… and imagine all sorts of things which we expect God wants, but they’re really what we want, and we’ve projected our desires upon him. When Christians don’t pray, Christendom looks like what we’ve currently got. It looks like the world… with a shiny shellac of Christianity coating it, but you don’t have to stand too closely to make out all the termite holes in the wood.

Yep, we definitely need more people of prayer.

Fair judgment.

by K.W. Leslie, 19 August

John 7.19-24.

The people of Jerusalem found Jesus teaching in temple, and wondered where he got his education; Jesus pointed out if we really pursued God instead of our own bright ideas, we’d know where he got his education.

Then he took a bit of left turn:

John 7.19-20 KWL
19 “Moses didn’t give you the Law, and none of you does the Law: Why do you seek to kill me?”
20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill you?”

Where’d that come from? Well, largely the fact, two chapters ago, they totally sought to kill him.

John 5.17-18 KWL
17 Jesus answered them, “My Father works today, just like I work.”
18 So the Judeans all the more wanted him dead for this reason:
Not only was he dismissing Sabbath custom,
but he said God was his own Father, making himself equal to God.

And they still wanted him dead. Oh, they might’ve pretended otherwise, but Jesus knew better. So he bluntly called them on it: “Why do you seek to kill me?” And they flagrantly pretended otherwise: “You have a demon”—that culture’s way of saying, “You’re nuts.”

Yeah, certain Christians claim the Judeans meant “You have a demon” literally. Y’might recall the other gospels, in which the Jerusalem scribes decreed Jesus’s exorcisms were done by devilish power. John’s gospel doesn’t include that story; in fact Jesus never performs an exorcism in John. But this wasn’t an accusation of Jesus working via Satan’s power; it was the culture’s presumption about how madness works. Nowadays we’d leap to the conclusion you’re off your medication (or need some); back then they’d leap to the conclusion you had some critters in you. So we can dismiss the Judeans’ comment as mere hyperbole… for now.

But Jesus wasn’t nuts. He knew they intended to destroy them; he’d known it since they first started plotting. He knew they’d ultimately succeed. He was gonna use it as part of his grand plan to save the world. But he didn’t want them to think they were cleverly slipping anything past him, or getting away with anything. He knew what they were up to.

The self-anointed prophet.

by K.W. Leslie, 15 August

When God makes one of his kids a prophet, he doesn’t anoint us.

Anointing, i.e. pouring oil over someone’s head to indicate leadership, is done in the bible to leaders. Not prophets. True, the LORD instructed his prophet Elijah to anoint Elisha ben Šafát, 1Ki 19.16 but that’s as his successor as leader of the בְנֵֽי־הַנְּבִיאִ֥ים/vnéi haneviím, “the sons of the prophets,” 2Ki 2.15 a prophecy guild. Elisha was already a prophet.

’Cause how God makes prophets is to simply start talking to us. Like he did with Samuel ben Elqaná when he was a kid.

1 Samuel 3.3-10 KWL
3 Samuel laid down in the LORD’s sanctuary, where God’s ark was, before God’s lamp was put out.
4 The LORD called Samuel, saying, “Look at me.”
5 Samuel ran to Eli, saying, “Look at me; you called me.”
Eli said, “I didn’t call. Go back. Lie down.” Samuel walked back and laid down.
6 The LORD called yet again: “Samuel.”
Samuel stood and walked to Eli, saying, “Look at me; you called me.”
Eli said, “I didn’t call, my son. Go back. Lie down.”
7 Samuel hadn’t yet met the LORD,
who hadn’t yet revealed the LORD’s word to him.
8 The LORD called Samuel again a third time.
Samuel stood and walked to Eli, saying, “Look at me; you called me.”
Eli realized the LORD called the boy, 9 and Eli told Samuel, “Go lie down.
If he happens to call you, say, ‘Speak, LORD: Your slave hears you.’ ”
Samuel walked back and laid down in the LORD’s room.
10 The LORD came, stood there, and did as he did before: “Samuel. Samuel.”
Samuel said, “Speak: Your slave hears you.”

There are dramatic stories in the bible of a prophet’s first God-experience—or what sounds like a prophet’s first God-experience. People like to point to when Isaiah saw the LORD in his temple, with the serafs and the burning coal and “Holy holy holy!” and all that. But that vision is recorded in Isaiah’s sixth chapter. He had five chapters of prophecy before that! And likely so did all the other prophets whose books start with profound God-experiences. I’m not knocking experiences; they’re awesome. But God doesn’t need to start with that, and usually doesn’t. More often it’s like when he first talked to Samuel.

So when someone starts referring to themselves as an anointed prophet, what we’ve got here is someone who doesn’t know how God selects prophets. Who thinks being able to hear God, automatically makes ’em some sort of leader. Following their logic, Eli should’ve just made Samuel a co-head priest, little boy or not. Jeremiah ben Hilqiyahu should’ve been made a co-regent with King Josiah ben Amon. The ability to hear God catapults you into a position of power, so back up, everyone!

“Church is SO BORING.”

by K.W. Leslie, 14 August

So it’s summer vacation, your kid wanders into the room, and complains, “I’m bored.”

And if you’re anything like my parents, you’d throw up your hands in frustration: “Whatd’you mean, you’re bored? You got a room full of toys! A computer full of video games! A shelf full of books! How can you be bored?… You’re so spoiled rotten.”

Okay, maybe you’re not middle class and can’t afford to give your kids any that stuff. Or maybe you’re like my dad and responds, “Bored, eh? Well I have some projects you could work on…” by which he meant chores, none of which were fun. But both kids and adults in our culture, on every economic level, have no shortage of options. “Spoiled rotten” is right. Boredom just means we don’t care about any of these options; at the moment we don’t care about, or can’t relate to, any of ’em. A “bored” kid with a roomful of toys simply isn’t interested in any of them right now. (Quick ’n dirty way to change that: Offer to get rid of any of them.)

And sometimes we Christians are the very same way with our churches.

  • The songs? Heard ’em a thousand times. And I’m not just talking about how the worship pastor loves to repeat them: They’re on the radio; they come up all the time on Spotify; we own the CDs; we grew annoyed with ’em months ago.
  • The sermons? Heard those lessons a thousand times. Heard ’em in children’s church when we grew up. Heard ’em again in youth groups, young-adult classes, on church TV shows and from radio preachers; in Sunday sermon after Wednesday night sermon after Saturday night sermon.
  • The people? Same old people. There’s nothing new in their lives… or at least nothing new we care about. They only talk small talk, or they only complain, or they won’t stop bragging about their kids, or they only bring up sports and weather. Or worse—the opposite of your politics.

Eventually we Christians all reach a saturation point with our churches: We’ve heard it all. Seen it all. Done it all. And we’re bored.

So we don’t wanna go.

What about those Christians who pray to saints?

by K.W. Leslie, 13 August

When we talk about prayer, we usually mean speaking with God. But technically pray means “to ask.” Still meant that, back in the olden days. In one of Jesus’s stories, one man tells another, “I pray thee have me excused,” Lk 14.19 KJV ’cause people can make requests of one another. We can ask God for things, God can ask things of us, and Christians can ask things of one another.

Now, here’s where it slides away from your average Evangelical’s comfort zone: When Christians ask things of fellow Christians… who are dead.

“Praying to saints,” we call it. It’s found in older churches: Orthodox, Roman Catholics, or Anglicans and Episcopalians. And it’s commonly practiced by Christians whose loved ones have died: To comfort ourselves, figuring our loved ones are in heaven and in God’s presence, sometimes we talk to those loved ones. Some of us hope they heard us… and others are downright certain they heard us, ’cause they can’t see why God can’t empower that kind of thing. Why can’t he pass a message to our dead relatives and friends?

For that matter, why not to anyone? Including people whom we know God saved: Jesus’s parents Joseph and Mary; Jesus’s brothers James and Jude; Jesus’s apostles Peter, John, Mary of Magdala, and the rest. And maybe Christian who aren’t in the bible. Like the founders of great Christian movements, like St. Francis of Assisi, or Martin Luther, or Billy Graham.

Like all humans, Evangelicals are creatures of extremes, and take one of two attitudes about praying to saints:

  1. Won’t do any harm. Maybe God will pass our messages along.
  2. It’s heresy. And praying to anyone but God is idolatry. Plus praying to the dead violates the scriptures:
Deuteronomy 18.10-12 KWL
10 Don’t have among you anyone who passes their son or daughter through fire.
Nor augurs practicing augury, nephelomancy, scrying, incanting, 11 enchanting,
asking a psychic or spiritist, nor questioning the dead.
12 For all these acts offend the LORD.
Because of these offenses, your LORD God takes them out of your presence.

So if praying to saints is the same as questioning the dead, isn’t that a serious no-no?

Well, if it were the same. Those whose churches teach ’em to pray to saints, insist it’s actually not: The saints in heaven aren’t dead.

Seriously. Jesus once said the way the Father perceives Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—saints who are really long-dead, and were long-dead even in Jesus’s day—is that “to him they’re all alive.” Lk 20.38 When a saint dies, we perceive ’em as dead. But they’re alive in heaven. More alive than ever they were here on earth.

Remember in the bible when Moses died? Dt 34.5 Yet when Jesus was transfigured, Moses showed up, and they had a chat. Mk 9.4 Now, was Jesus, of all people, questioning the dead?—and therefore breaking his own Law, and sinning? Or is Moses in fact alive—in heaven?

You can likely guess those who pray to saints claim it’s they’re not really dead. Once they got to heaven, God made them alive again. They got resurrected. So whether we’re talking to a saint on earth, or a saint in heaven, it’s all the same—all part of “the communion of saints,” as the creeds put it. The body of Christ happens to have a few members in a really useful place. Namely heaven.

And if they’re alive in heaven, why can’t we make requests of them, same as we would to any other living Christian? There are certain Christians I know, and if I need prophecy, healing, or any other miracle, I could ask them. As the Holy Spirit permits, they can actually answer those requests and perform such miracles. Well, how much more so might St. Mary, St. Jude, St. Francis, or St. Martin Luther King Jr.?

That’s the general idea: When you pray to saints, you’re requesting help, same as you would from any other Christian… but unlike earthly Christians, who might look like they have a solid relationship with Jesus, but secretly be major screw-ups, the heavenly saints are definitely in God’s presence. Pray to them, and your chances of answered prayer shoot way up.

(Especially, most figure, when you pray to Mary. ’Member how effectively she got her resistant son to take care of the wine situation at Cana? Jn 2.3-11 So if you’re not so sure you can get a yes out of Jesus, talk to his mom. She’ll twist his arm.)