while i waited in line at the drive-through window of my neighborhood pharmacy, i noticed one of the bumper stickers on the back of the car in front of me. it read, " global warming? how about global prayer?" it was taking an interminable time in line so i had some time to think about the suggestion on the bumper sticker. did the woman in that car really think that global warming would be solved if everyone prayed about it? was she suggesting that global warming is a hoax, as one of our presidential candidates has told us, but global prayer is a real way to solve our problems?
i was reminded of the politicians who assure the victims of gun violence that they are being prayed for as these same politicians fight tooth and nail to make certain that there are no restrictions on gun ownership or the "right to bear arms.," whose solution to the stream of mass shootings is more guns and prayers. prayer is fine, but God doesn't need us to tell God that people are suffering and need care; we have minds that enable us to solve our own problems without God's intervention. in order for the world to be a better place, it is action that is required, not prayer.
it's too easy to simply try praying away the difficulties we face. we can pray, "God, please bring an end to senseless killing and abuse of the environment," and we might as well wish on a star for all the good our words will accomplish. why should God do what we can do on our own? it's our responsibility to figure out how to bring about a world where life is valued and the earth is cared for. God may be watching and weeping, but we made this mess, and we should clean it up.
"prayer is america's only hope" signs are in people's yards all over town, but those signs and the people who believe them are very wrong. concerted action is america's best hope. we are stronger together, as the democratic nominee says, and it's time we stopped trusting in pie in the sky and started taking the steps necessary to make the world a better place.
may we care for one another and the environment of which we are a part. may we remember that prayer without action is useless, and right action is possible whether we pray or not. may we turn from the smugness of praying and then waiting for an answer that will never come without our working to bring it about. shalom.