This American Life: Christians Praying Badly

Julie found this show in the archives of This American Life all about prayer. The question driving the show is, “Can Christians and the secular world understand each other?” The lady in the first half of the show thinks they are able, but she meets a pastor who disagrees. During a visit to Colorado Springs and New Life Church, Ted Haggard’s church incidentally, she confronts much of what there is to love and hate about Christianity.

For my part, I believe there are certain things about Christianity and the spiritual realm that are really hard to explain to someone who is an atheist, agnostic, etc. God very dramatically healed an area of my life during vacation last week–more about that another time–and I don’t know exactly how to explain it to someone who doesn’t believe God is capable of tinkering with our lives.

During most of the show I kept feeling like some prayer warriors were going out and doing Christian-like things, but were not always connected with God and where he’s at.

There surely were exceptions, but on one occasion three Christians walk behind a school and begin praying where the drama kids used to hang out. The drama kids were . . . LIBERAL . . . they accepted “new ideas” and were “open.” I wanted to drop my head into the dish water right then (I was doing dishes while listening to the show) and end it all.

Agh! The stupidity is stifling. The prayer that follows this indictment is equally painful to hear. Thankfully the show cuts it short.

I’m not an expert on prayer and many of the people featured in this show did seem to be in tune with God and have a relationship with him, but I keep coming back to this: prayer gets us on the same page as God. Sometimes I sensed an agenda behind the prayers and that left me uncomfortable. It was a blend of marketing techniques and spirituality that left me dry and thirsty for something real.

Prayer involves pushing ourselves to God and letting him take over from there. I’m not sure if we can truly pray strategically. At some point the wheels fall off.

In the final analysis, I think the first half of this show introduces some parts of Christianity in a very accurate light. Many of the Christians display true love and desire to serve God. But sometimes when they prayed, I cringed.

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One thought on “This American Life: Christians Praying Badly

  1. pbandj

    a very insightful and honest look into the prayer life of christians. i think we all would be wise to take a step back and see how we are communicating with God and if we need to change ourselves.

    peter

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