When I was an atheist, my mother would say things like “I’ll pray for God to help you write a good exam” and that was enough to upset me. I’d then ask her back “Will God write it for me?”
Yes, I was the typical insufferable atheist. I always thought of myself as wiser and intellectually superior to others who believed in God. I even thought I was good and that I would have a good life if it weren’t for all the others around me who were so bad.
It took a lot of being crushed in life to humble me down and make me realize I wasn’t good. And when I actually needed help and support, this world provided it to some extent, but the effect was very short lived. Until I reached the point of no return.
I was doing therapy at the time and I remember my psychologist asking me if I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to live without psychological help. And, yes, I was convinced that was the case. I was emotionally crippled without having a mental illness, depression, anxiety — nothing that warranted a diagnostic. I just felt the weight of this loveless world.
I bring this up because, nowadays, I understand why people get angry at the idea of prayer as a means to cope with difficult situations. Although they are too arrogant to see it, they are coming from the same place of hopelessness where I was most of my life. And my arrogance peaked as I reached rock bottom.
That said, when God calls us, he doesn’t expect us to pray and then sit around waiting for his deliverance. Everything good in our lives comes from God, yet we need to do what we can. There is a significant difference between hope and omission.
Only religious people will call for prayer and leave it at that when there are ways to offer pragmatic help along with prayer.
There is rarely any situation in this world when all we can do is pray. Normally, the Creator of the Universe also gives us the understanding of when and how to offer a hand to others in need.
As we share God’s divinity, his love in us keeps us away from these worldly extremes. We can neither behave as insufferably arrogant atheists nor as omissive religious people. Wherever these behaviours operate, a relationship with God does not exist.
Let’s remember it is God’s love that infuses balance into our lives, a balance this world knows nothing about. Armed with his love, we can pray and take action. We just need to let him guide us.