Monday, April 2, 2012

Super Supplements

I've been taking this regularly.

It claims to contain seven different berries and it tastes pretty good too. But I don't really think it's going to benefit me in any way.

It's very much like prayer. It doesn't work but it's polite sometimes to say a prayer or to say you will keep someone in your prayers. I used to think that was hypocritical when I was younger but I now know it's just plain politeness.  This brings to my mind something that has puzzled me somewhat.

Why are some people asked to lead in prayer and others never?  Richard Dawkins admits that he leads in prayer in his university where he is a Fellow.  But that is different.  He leads in saying grace before meals because the tradition of his college requires all Fellows to lead in grace.

What about in church or in a Christian setting?  Among the musicians in my church, there are only a few of us who are asked to lead in prayer.  What makes someone get asked to lead?  It's not a random thing because there is always a fairly large group of people who are never asked.  It's got nothing to do with their faith.  They may be fine pious Christians.  It's like an unspoken rule but there must be some criteria by which people are guided but I do not know what it is.  Do the people in this group feel slighted?  I've never asked and probably will never ask.

Among the church musicians, I must be one of the least "Christian".  If I'm not asked to lead in prayer at all, I'll understand it perfectly.  I'm not one to hide my thoughts and most people are aware exactly where I stand in religious/supernatural matters.  I have serious doubts about the faith and although I will always soldier on and cling to my childhood religion, it is perfectly reasonable if a more worthy believer whose faith is free of doubt and confusion is chosen to lead in prayer.  I certainly won't feel slighted because the reason is obvious why I should be sidelined.  And I'm not one of those with ego problems who has a need to be seen to do pious things.

Surprising though it may seem to most people, I belong to the few who are regularly asked to lead in prayer.  And it's not just the church musicians.  In many other circles that I'm in, the same thing happens every time there is a need to have someone lead in grace or to say a prayer.  Of course if there is a clergyman, the honour is always given to him but I do get asked very often.  What can the reason be?  Are these people deceived into believing that I'm "holy"?

I've never really thought about it until this morning when I took the berry extract supplement.  One thing led to another and the ineffectiveness of such supplements led me to consider the inefficacy of prayer and from that thought, I went on to wonder what the criteria were for someone to be asked to lead in prayer.

Having examined the question, I think I now know what the answer is.  Those who are never asked to lead are usually silent people.  It is a common fallacy to assume that quiet people are prayerful.  Monks in monasteries take the vow of silence  and the Bible tells us to "Be still and know that I am God".  God supposedly speaks in that "still small voice".  Silence is always associated with prayer and religious devotion and saying nothing is looked upon as a virtue.  When Jesus was tried, one of the gospels says categorically that he said nothing.  Of course there is another gospel that tells us that Jesus said a great deal but I'm not now examining biblical contradictions so we'll let that pass.  The daily devotion some Christians do every day is also commonly called "Quiet Time".  In the minds of most people, a quiet person in church is probably one who has heeded St Paul's command that we should "pray without ceasing".  The general assumption is this group of people have prayed enough.  Let's not bother them with more prayers.

Everyone knows I don't pray.  If prayers are said in church, my mind is always on other things and I do not try to hide it.  Very rarely do I consider the words of a prayer unless there's something in it that stands out.  Now here is the simple answer to the mystery:

Those who ask me to lead in prayer do so out of concern for my soul.  By leading in prayer, I AM praying.  They are hoping that by getting me to lead, I am praying after all and that's half the battle won.  It's through prayer that the Foe (one of the many names for the Devil - yes, there are people in this century who still believe in this ancient creature of legends) is vanquished.

Then what about those people who are always asked to lead in prayer when they don't seem to have a faith that is riddled with doubts and they appear as if they do pray quite a lot on their own anyway?  Perhaps they have some secret sin that I know nothing of?

The next time someone is asked to lead in prayer, think about this.  Why is he asked?  Is he asked because he, like me, has doubts about his faith or is it because he has some deep dark sin in his closet that nobody knows about?

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