Tuesday, August 21, 2007

One Way to Illumine the Ungodly

One of Prudie's readers asked:
I know people mean well when they say, "I'll pray for you" when they hear of a serious difficulty in your life. But it makes me really uncomfortable, and it's all I can do not to shout out, "No thank you!" I was brought up without religion yet with a deep sense of compassion for others. So I understand the inclination of others to offer comfort, but when the effort to be supportive is couched in religious terms, it has the exact opposite effect on me. For now, I usually just force a smile or say, "That's nice of you." It's especially hard to take from people who know a bit about me and my nonreligious background. Any thoughts on how I either can keep this situation from bugging me or let people know that it would be more comforting for me to hear, "I'll be thinking of you"?


The Reformed Boor responds:

That "bugging" feeling that you have is your conscience, bearing testimony to you that God is. Listen to it, and soon. If your conscience did not know there was a god, the comment would be no more discomforting than comments about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. You recognize that prayer to God is fundamentally different from myth, and you are nagged by your conscience, which convicts you of sin. Now, while you have time, repent of your sin: soon it will be too late.

But I'm afraid my comments here will likely be missed by the reader above, and only read by those who pray to God regularly. For those of you who fall in that category, here is the Reformed Boor's unsolicited advice: don't be ashamed to make the fact that you pray known. We are not to pray on the housetops, and it is not always necessary to inform someone that you will pray for them, but it can serve (as can be seen above) a good purpose in arousing their conscience to testify to them as to God's existence.

There is also, however, an abuse of the technique: namely using "I'll pray for you," condescendingly. One doesn't have to look far or hard to find blogs where acrimonious folks will make comments to the effect of, "you're the next Hitler; I'm praying for you." Bear in mind that people will see how you say what you say. Telling someone you'll pray for them, while you are behaving in an ungodly manner toward them puts Christ to shame, and defames the body of believers. Don't do that. Know when to speak and when to remain silent. The latter can be a greater challenge than the former.

May God bless the consciences of those who call themselves "not religious," and may God give us wisdom as we bear testimony to the Creator who gave them that conscience,


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