Please Talk to the Picketers!

Driving towards the parking lot of Reliant Staduim where the Day long Fasting Prayer event ‘The Response’ was held, I saw some people with Placards – mostly opposing the event. Some of them were acrimonious. One of the kinder ones read ‘If God had a plan, WHY PRAY?’ It was held by a very cheerful looking guy. I thought, ‘Interesting…’. I drove past him. After I parked my car within the fenced parking lot, I realized that this ‘Why-Pray’ dude was pretty close, on the other side of the fence. I walked over to the fence and said, “Sir, can I talk to you for a moment.”
He was an extraordinarily kind guy he came over to talk. The ‘Why-Pray’ dude is Mr. S. I told him that his sign was interesting and that I wanted to know more of his thoughts behind it. I asked him what his placard meant. He replied, that the meaning was obvious enough.
I realized that I had to post the questions… The statement, ‘If God had a plan, WHY PRAY?’ implied that prayer and God were mutually exclusive. I asked him why he thought they should be mutually exclusive. The lady that was picketting next to him shouted out to Mr. S, “Don’t speak this guy (me). He is just wasting your picketing time”. Being a kind guy, Mr.S, didn’t listen to her. He replied, “If God is in Total control and He has decided what He wants to do, they why pray at all?”
“The answer to that would depend on what sort of relationship I have with God”, I replied, “I pray to God. The reason why I pray to God is because God is my Father. Just like a loving Father would give His son the right to express his thoughts and petitions, God gives use the right and the DIGNITY of prayer to Him.”
He said, “Wouldn’t it be sort of misleading if God were to allow us to pray to Him, but then go and do what He wants to do?”
The answer to that really depends on how I view God. If I view God as a loving Father, then just as a loving Father would do the best for His son, God will do the best for us. Sometimes, He will grant our wishes, sometimes not – ALL for our good.
But isn’t that ‘blind faith’ he responded.
I wouldn’t call it ‘blind faith’. I would call it ‘reasonable faith’. Much of life operates by principles of reasonable faith. We NEVER have ‘exhaustive’ knowledge about anything in life. We always take things by faith. For example, I am talking with you because seeing your cheerful demeanor I thought you would be a reasonable guy to talk to. I didn’t have ‘absolute proof’, but I had ‘reasonable faith’ that you would be a reasonable guy.
He replied, “you are talking to me because there is a fence between us and we can’t hurt each other”.
I replied, “well in that case your ‘blind faith’ is that I don’t have a gun. WHAT proof do you have that I don’t have a gun?”
He replied, “I TOTALLY believe that you have a gun”. We laughed… After all this is TEXAS. Of course, I can’t excersice the 2nd amendment right… I didn’t tell him that though. I figured the idea of me having a gun would put the fear of God in him. 😛
I continued to make the case for how human being always tend to operate by principles of ‘reasonable faith’… Even in Mathematics, we have axioms which really have NO ‘absolute proof’. The proof is assumed based on it being reasonable. It is reasonable to believe that NO man has an infinite mind to be ‘absolutely’ sure that there isn’t any other Being with an infinite mind. If it is reasonable for me to believe that the Reliant Stadium was designed by a sentient being even though I have never seen anyone design it, why wouldn’t it be reasonable to believe that the world was designed by another sentient Being, even though I wasn’t there to witness creation first-hand?
Our conversations went on… and we got to talk about philosophy etc… and I asked him what made him an Atheist. He said that he was from a very Christian family and was active in the Church. But that none answered the questions he had about the Bible. Then he read Sam Harris one day and became an Atheist. I asked him if he read any of the Christian rebuttals against Sam Harris’ books. He hadn’t. I gave him some suggestions.
I suggested he he read both sides of the argument before coming to a conclusion. I was surprised to hear him get excited when he recounted his time with the Church during his teens. I was even more heartened when he actually wrote down the name of the books I suggested. We must have talked for about 30 minutes at least. Before I left, he extended his hand for a hand-shake. But only two fingers could make it through the fence… We shook with two fingers… and bid goodbye… I, whispering a prayer for him and he back to the picketing lines with the placard, “If God has a plan, Why Pray?”
I wish he realizes that every prayer is in itself a part of God’s plan even when the prayer isn’t in in tune with His Sovereign plan. God is powerful enough to bring meaning out of even the most mundane and foolish of prayers…  

Author: Emmanuel R Paulpeter

I am a writer, spiritual director, life coach and a Church Planter who love all things pop culture, theology and spirituality.

One thought on “Please Talk to the Picketers!”

  1. Thanks for sharing! I am encouraged by your (a) knowledge and (b) courage to discuss your opinions openly. What a nice an open discussion to have :)Praying for Mr. S.

    Like

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