Saturday, December 01, 2007

Praying for rain

Sonny Perdue, the Governor of drought-stricken Georgia, caused a bit of a stir a couple of weeks ago by holding a public prayer meeting to intercede with God for rain. His prayers on the Capitol steps in Atlanta, along with those of Christian clergy, were heard by hundreds of Georgians, including many state legislators.

One Methodist minister prayed "We've been so busy industrializing that we've forgotten how to spiritualize. We've been so busy with our economy and what we can have and what we can possess that we've forgotten that you possess it all. Great God, this is your land. We till it for you. We are entrepreneurs for you, dear God." As if in response, an entrepeneur who had traveled from New York for the event distributed leaflets promoting his company's Wataire Atmospheric Water Generator, a device to make pure filtered water from the air.

Amidst the amens, many secularists complained about the mingling of church and state: "the government needs to take action, not call prayer meetings. Let the churches call prayer meetings." But Dave Ross, a liberal CBS radio commentator, had a different and interesting take on this prayer, and on prayer in general. I couldn't find a transcript, but what I was able to make out was this:

The governor prayed ""Father, we come before you today to acknowledge that we are needy. We acknowledge our wastefulness. We acknowledge that we haven't done the things we need to do." Another of the ministers prayed "We acknowledge that we have not been good stewards of our land."

Dave Ross, who, according to what I've read, is usually quite cynical, then commented: "Wow, that's some serious truth-telling, because people who believe in God know that He wants us to acknowledge the truth before He acts." He went on to suggest that if the prayers weren't answered, maybe God was waiting for a little more truth.

So Dave suggested that the next prayer could go like this: "Lord, we acknowledge that we your children have mocked the idea of climate change and ridiculed the idea that our desire for wealth and comfort could affect your delicate balance."

"You may disagree", he said, "but try it, and if that doesn't work then try something like "Lord, we realize our selfish development practices have threatened the very water supplies we are praying for --and just keep going, keep telling God the truth until the drought finally ends. Because that's the real power of prayer, that it gets you to proclaim the truth loudly enough that even the people who are doing the praying can hear it."

Something to think about there: truth-telling prayer is like the prophets' words of truth. Without truth, prayer becomes a con job, conning the self, conning the people. Only if we face the truth do we have a chance of coming to our senses and dealing reasonably with our messes.

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