We should continue to pray for Paris, not because we want Parisians to have ‘more religion’, but because humanity is at its best when people come together.
Let me give an example. Suppose you believe in a Great Green Dragon in the sky who is able to bring peace and joy to the world, if only he’s asked. Suppose I’m going through something really sucky, and I could use some peace and joy, so you offer to pray to your Great Green Dragon for peace and joy for me.
I have two options. I can go the hardcore atheist/fundie Christian route (yes, today they’re the same) and rebuke you for your faith in the GGD. I can tell you that, because I don’t believe in this funny story of yours, your prayers will either do no good (atheist side) or damage me because you’re praying to someone other that God (fundie side). Either way, your attempt to intercede for me is offensive, divisive, and disrespectful of my special, special belief system and/or intellect.
Or, I can say, ‘thank you’. Go ahead and pray if you’d like. If there is no Great Green Dragon in the sky, then I nothing will come of it, for good or evil. But there is strength in unity and compassion. I believe that when we lift up our voices and hearts on behalf of one another, our own hearts are changed. Empathy is powerful, action is even more so, and the act of praying for others makes us better people, and more likely to turn sentiment into action.
Besides, if you really believe that this Great Green Dragon has the power to help me, but you don’t or won’t pray for me, what must you think of me?
While there may be some who are praying for more religion in Paris, the majority of prayers being offered up are for healing, peace, wisdom for leadership, and strength for the weary. We’re praying for compassion. We’re praying for the needed resources to be in place. We’re praying for music, kisses and life. We’re praying for people, because people have value, no matter what they believe. Do we hope that more people will come to faith in Christ? Of course we do. But if they don’t, we will love them all the same.
So, to my atheist friends, I hope you aren’t offended, but I’m going to keep praying. I’m praying because the people of Paris, and around the world, need us to grab them by the hand and pull them up in whatever way we can. #prayerisaboutlife
P.S. Yes, I still believe in God and miracles and Jesus. I believe that prayer works. The above is also true.