Prayer: Communion with yourself
I have always had a problem with the Christian concept of prayer. I have never really understood how thinking in a certain way about God or even addressing such an entity could somehow put me in touch with a Deity that is supposed to be transcendent in relation to this world. According to Christianity, prayer is “communication with God.” Yet, I cannot seem to grasp the specific workings of it or even muster up the need for it, except in cases of emergency when my will is weakened. Oh, I’ve tried to pray as Christian writers, leaders, and pastors tell us to; praise, petition, thanksgiving, etc. You know the drill.
But in the back of my mind I can’t help thinking that this is all unnecessary if a truly omnipotent and omniscient Being is in charge of things. Such a Being should already know what everyone is thinking about or worrying about without our having to say so out loud or even think it in our thoughts. The more I thought logically about it, the more I could not understand how such an omnipotent and transcendent being could even be “moved” by an immanent and finite being such as myself in the first place. Transcendent by its very meaning, is “completely outside of and beyond the world.” If this is true, then communication with such a being is impossible for the finite and immanent.
These thorny problems bothered me throughout my excursion through and exodus from Christianity, but they no longer bother me. It’s a philosophical problem that is posed because of other assumptions about a God and the nature of the universe and becomes virtually meaningless in the real world in which we exist.
Despite these thorny philosophical problems, millions of people continue to pray. The Christian idea of”spending time with God” every morning during devotion time was something that was ingrained in our thoughts as we went to church week after week. However, as my life moved on and as I learned more about the philosophical problems posed by such a transcendent Deity and by the differing “Gods” offered us by scriptures and by theologians, I began to doubt not only the efficacy of prayer but even the very concept of “prayer.” My devotion time changed from simply receiving pre-chewed information from Christian sources into a rich time of personal thought, journaling, and a more careful selection of reading material, ones from a vast variety of sources, not just from Christian ones. Once I abandoned those preconceived notions about how we are supposed to pray, I began to trust myself again and realized that I had never really taken it too seriously from the beginning. In fact, I don’t claim to ever have communed with “God,” but I got to know myself pretty well! I think THAT alone is what scares Christian leaders the most.
–Mystery of Iniquity