Imagine someone about to go skydiving. This person has a choice between two parachutes, one is in good shape and has been well-maintained. The other has recently been found under a pile of junk outside the hanger. It’s been bleached by the sun and chewed by mice. Some of the seams are pulling apart. Imagine that the skydiver chooses the old tattered parachute, even though the other one is right there, unused. The choice is politically motivated. “Only ‘other’ people use well-maintained parachutes,” he thinks. “And I’ve got God on my side. I’ll pray this old things holds up. I’ll even pray in a renewed way.”
It’s impossible to know what goes through the minds of leaders deliberately making choices that could harm others. Why would you hold a political rally in the middle of a pandemic, at a moment when cases are surging, and suggest that those gathered should “pray in a renewed way”? How is this not taking the Lord’s name in vain? How is this not offering prayer as an opiate to the masses?
Jesus was a man of deep prayer. That is obvious from the gospel accounts. Jesus taught us to pray that God’s will would be done here on earth just as it already is in heaven. But Jesus lived in line with God’s will. Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God and lived the kingdom of God. Jesus did not live the kingdom of stupidity and pray that God would make up the difference.
When prayer becomes a way of dodging issues, we do not have a right to pray. When prayer becomes an escape from the demands of loving our neighbours, we do not have a right to pray. When prayer becomes a way of appearing to do something as a way of doing nothing, we do not have a right to pray. When prayer becomes an act, a charade to support the kingdom of the world, we do not have a right to pray.