Rewards for Prayer

I have overwhelming evidence – everyday day notifications of religious texts, sermons and scriptures – that all my Facebook friends, acquaintances and family are deeply religious, or showing some devotion to or reverence and belief in a higher power with a commitment, no doubt, to the strict observance of a moral code including virtue, decency, honesty and a keen interest in fighting injustice and wrongdoing wherever it seems. I truly applauded your conviction and dedication to Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism or whatever your religious belief, because there is no task more daunting, a unique human predicament of the impossibility, to save the world from all its dire struggles and tribulations, a task more suited to an all-powerful, all-knowing God, than a messenger of one.

Former Catholic nun, Karen Armstrong wrote in her book, ‘The History of God’ explains, ‘there’s a distinction between belief in a set of propositions and a faith which enables us to put trust in them………I cannot say, however, that my belief in these religious opinions about the nature of ultimate reality gave me much confidence that life here on earth was good or beneficent’. In fact, living on earth is a Hellish existence, that might explain the quest by traditional Christians for that journey to Heaven, a rewarding place for the righteous and the saved. Since no one can envision what the Heaven is like, it is up to your creative imagination because so little is to show about life in the eternity. The popular belief is that a good person goes to heaven immediately when he or she dies; others believe that the body goes back to the dust and the soul ascends to Heaven, however, there is just one recorded incident of an ascent into heaven.

I do not have those aspirations or yearnings to undertake the impossible task of saving people from their wretched life’s experiences; neither do I have a divine calling to a monastic order by taking a vow of poverty, chastity or obedience. But I certainly want to live in a world free from suffering, hopelessness, despair, unhappiness and sorrow; war and strive; and a resolution to all evils that afflict the poor and the unfortunate. If prayer is the great equalizer and is a means to effect changes in society: to heal the sick and infirmed; improve the welfare and aid the poor; soften the hearts of obstinate men, then the rich seem to fare better praying to multiply their wealth times over while the poor remain stagnant in their circumstances. It seems the angels that grant rewards are strangely absent from the daily lives of the destitute and disadvantaged.

We often witnessed prayers to begin a sport event and often when one team is victorious over another. It occurred to me that if both teams summons divine intervention to support one side over another. Who is to blame when one team losses, if both teams are praying for the same result – a win? Let me guess – the devil.

Being religious does not make a better human being; nor resolves the myriad of problems many people meet on a daily basis, however, prolong suffering, hopelessness, despair or unfortunate circumstances may force someone to look to religion for solace and comfort when there is a lack of hope.

The revelation of emails of the Sony executives paints a troubling picture of the attitudes of the dominant population that disparages the accomplishments of the minority actors in Hollywood. In spite of the election of the first President of color, racism is still alive and well. You would believe that the power of prayer is the antithesis of the proclivity for the killing of unarmed black men by white police officers. This is by no means a new occurrence. The perceive the threat of Black men invading White culture during slavery and post slavery, had long been the biggest fears of most white people.

I have had more church than most. Being the nephew of a Pastor of a Pilgrim Holiness Church, I used to attend church twice on Sundays, Wednesday, Thursdays and Friday nights. I have witnessed sisters overcome with the ‘spirits’ and brethren talking in ‘tongues’; I have attended more baptisms than John the Baptist at a River Bay excursion. I still enjoy a good tent revival and charismatic pastors preaching fire and brimstone as punishment for sinners.

If we are all praying to the same divine being, one dominant group seem to have the advantage of being heard. For over 300 hundred years or more of prayer for basic human rights, it is still a struggle to achieve. With a justice system that favors the rich and guilty and a deliberate disregard for the poor and innocence, it is not likely to change at any time soon or in the future.

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