Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Cranky Christian’s guide to prayer

One of my friends sent this to me. I told him that he needed to have his own blog, but he told me just to post this on mine. Hopefully you will get a good laugh and it may just express some of your own thoughts on how we pray today.

Joe Petroselli 12/30/2009

My name is Joe and I'm a Christian, Catholic to be exact, and I'm Cranky and I'm impatient and I'm bored. Not with God and not with my faith but rather with the way we choose to worship and communicate with God. After 8 years of Catholic Grammar school, Two years of Catholic High School (parents ran out of money) and 4 years of Catholic College (paid for it myself) I am sick of all the mindless canned prayers we offer to God.

When we talk to one another we use words and language to convey our thought. If I wanted to tell you that I love you, there are many ways and combinations of words I could use to do that but the key thing is to share the thought or feeling I have for you. If I keep using the same phrase or sentence over and over ( like the cashier at the grocery store wishing that I “Have a nice day” ) I tend to doubt that there is any genuine thought or meaning that accompany those words. As a matter of fact I don’t actually believe the cashier would care of I fell over in the street as soon as my credit card was approved, yet she feels that she has done her duty by saying the words (wishing me a nice day). It sounds good; it looks good, but really doesn’t mean much to me.
I hate to say it but that’s just about what our prayers have become when we get together to pray to God.

A prayer is talking to God, making a request or conveying a feeling of fear, love or thankfulness. When we talk to each other we don’t rely on formal structured repetitive statements and we certainly don’t speak in Old English. When Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer he didn’t want us to use specific words as if they were magic words, he wanted us to embrace the thoughts, emotions, and intent contained in the prayer. My 8th grade nun once told me that if you want to know how God sees you “pretend he can’t hear you and pretend he can’t see you, but can only know you by how he sees the world through your heart”. So if you tell God that you love him and if you sit in a church every week and spew lofty sounding magic words (in old English yet) with little or no thoughts and your heart isn’t involved you may as well have stayed home. God didn’t see the Big Show and nothing much got through to him and he probably wasn’t too impressed.

When we say the Lord’s Prayer we start by saying “Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name”. We don’t speak like that .What the heck are we doing. We are slipping into religious speak as if there was only one set of acceptable words to express the wish or intent of the prayer. Remember, Jesus never used Old English with its “thy”, “thee”, “thou”, and “art” what he wanted us to absorb and savor is the thought or the soul of what these words represent. It’s that spiritual core that is the prayer not the words. However I doubt there is one of us that can’t rattle off the entire Lord’s Prayer without giving a single meaningful thought as to what it is we are saying. I know I can, and for those of us that are Catholics we have the “Hail Mary” which when used in saying the Rosary, can be fired off at astounding speed. I certainly hope Mary is impressed by velocity.

Talk to God as we talk to each other. Use the language that is best for you to express the thoughts that are in your heart. Speak from your heart and the core of your soul. Mean it. Don’t use ceremony, don’t use someone else's words. It’s a very personal relationship. Express yourself the best you can God will understand what you want or need.
So now that you have a clue of how to pray let me give you some insight on how to get your prayers answered. I’ve prayed to God for help in many instances throughout my life. After nearly 60 years I’ve learned something about prayer. It seems the answer to your prayers always comes but almost never how you thought it would.

There is an story told in churches many times: There was a woman trapped in her house during a flood. As the water rose she prayed for God to rescue her. Since she was a woman of great faith she had no doubt that God would help her. A small boat pulled up to the house and asked if she needed help, she said “No God would save her”. The water continued to rise and a larger boat came and asked if they could help and she replied “No God will save me”. The water continued getting deeper and finally she was trapped on the roof when a coast guard helicopter hovered over her but she waved them off too because she new God would save her. Finally as the water covered her roof the poor woman drowned. When she got to heaven she asked God why he didn’t answer her prayers and allowed her be a victim of the flood waters. God answered “I sent two boats and a helicopter but you refused them all”.

That has actually been my problem; I always seem to want divine help directly from God. Even though intellectually I know better I always expect a movie type of miracle from God. I pray for a new Porsche 911 sports car ( a “Carrera S” if anyone in heaven is listening), and I expect that if God is going to answer my prayer “Zap” the car will suddenly appear in my driveway. Well despite the great stories in books and films my experience tells me that’s not how it works. Actually the answer to most of our prayers exists somewhere in this world. God intends for us to work together, love, help and respect one another. I think I read in the New Testament that the greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself. I believe that when I pray for something God answers by bringing together the necessary earthly elements with a pinch of divine influence to grant my prayer. Sometimes I can’t possibly imagine how it’s going to happen but it usually does. For example if you’re very ill and you pray for Gods help, don’t just sit there but try to find different doctors, different treatments or travel to a famous hospital in another state. It seems the God will step in to see that the right people or medical remedies and other necessary elements are brought together to answer your prayers.

As I have thought about it all, there has always been a problem in my mind when I pray for something as to who is worshiping who when we ask God for something then just sit there and wait for it to happen. Its kind of like a rich person asking the servant to get him a glass of water. Someone who loves you is more likely to help get you that drink of water if they see you struggling to reach the glass or trying to turn on the faucet. God helps us because he loves us but he is not our servant. Every time I have had my prayers answered I have been in motion trying to solve my problem. I have often been frustrated and can’t possibly see just how help will or can come but it usually does and almost always not in a way I expected. In the Air Force I worked on Jet Fighters and when these little air planes were leaving for a mission they were loaded with weapons, fuel and countermeasures and were actually too heavy to take off under their own power. They always got up in the air though because as they are rolling down the runway working as hard as they possibly can to get up in the air there is something called an afterburner that fires and it gives the plane the extra power it needs to get off the ground. You can actually hear it fire with a blast. Well that’s how I see prayer. When you are rolling down the runway, trying as hard as you can to have your prayers answered God provides the afterburner to give you the extra blast of help you need to have your prayers answered. I guess it doesn’t always have to happen but for me it usually does. Be aware that you may be experiencing answers to your prayers but just don’t recognize them because they don’t look like what you expected.

Pray with your heart and your love. Don’t worry about the words. When you pray, pray for help which means assistance with doing what you are already trying to do. There is no given amount of effort you have to put forth but all God asks for is to do your best. If you are too sick or confused there may be little or nothing you can do but even that is enough for God because its your best.

I hope that these thoughts put some logic in praying because it’s what I sincerely believe and how I understand my relationship with God. Don’t believe it if it doesn’t make sense to you but only if it seems logical and helps you come to your own conclusions.


Disclaimer: The above thoughts represent the best insights of a thinking malcontent. Do not accept them on blind faith but only if they make sense to you. If they turn out to be wrong feel free to use the attached “Get out Of Hell Free “card. Be aware though that like other guarantees in this world there is a good chance that it may not be honored by those involved in your final judgement.

Cut on line below

Get Out of Hell Free

To whom it may concern: Your name below
Please forgive _____________________________________ for literally accepting the concepts in the “The Cranky Christians Guide to Prayer”. He or she is just a well meaning chump with an inquiring mind trying to improve their personal relationship with God. We feel that hell is too severe a punishment for this transgression and would like to offer a plea bargain in which we are willing to accept 100 years in Purgatory for a guilty plea in lieu of hell.

Brown nose clause:
If you are assisting God in my final judgment remember that you
St. ________________________were always my favorite saint. Enter saints name above


I hope that you all enjoyed this post. I know that I did.

Peace and love,


"Be still and know that I am God"(Psalm 46:10)

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