When Prayer Becomes a Joke and Protestants Go Too Far: Restoring Reverence and Awe in the Everyday

   

The way in which we approach God demonstrates what we think of God. Some see him as a loving Father, a terrible tyrant, an awe-striking omnipotent being, or a homie to giggle and laugh with. And while at times God does seem like these qualities, he is not one of these things to the exclusion of the others.

Considering myself neither Protestant nor Catholic (nor Evangelical, Orthodox, or any other such label) has placed me in an interesting and insightful middle-ground. I like to see how and why people approach God in the ways that they do.

This is far more than just a curiosity displayed by a religious studies student. This is formative.

How do I think of and approach God? How was I taught and do I really believe what I am saying through the actions and religious habits that I have formed?

One particular group that gets a bum rap are the Catholics.

While Catholics and “religious” types are often harped on, being criticized for their rituals, traditions, and the “meaningless” babblings that they spout out at any given moment, Protestants seem to approach God in an even more flippant and meaningless way.

None of this is universal of course, but these traditions and approaches say much about how we think of God.

For the Catholic, God is so transcendent, infinite, holy, and separate, He could never be approach “willy-nilly” or haphazardly. We must cleanse ourselves and purify our hearts and hands (literally).

Our prayers should be structured. Intersession is required through priests who have dedicated their lives to serving God and through those already in our Father’s presence.

And while odd to those in Evangelical circles, their approach to Christ is seen as equally strange—and down right blasphemous.

In fact, prayer can easily become a joke when not taken seriously. Ultimately, when prayer is made into a joke, God is seen equally as such.

Take, for example, the prayer of Legendary Car driver “Ricky Bobby” from the humorous film “Talladega Nights.”

And while done in a humorous and comedic fashion, the vision of Christ is telling. He is a “golden dipper wearing” baby, a smelly bum, and the lead singer for Lynyrd Skynyrd.

No less strange is the prayer by Pastor Joe Nelms. His prayer seems to had been taken straight from the fictional character “Ricky Bobby.”

But is this the proper way in which to approach the infinite God? Was this even a prayer directed to heaven or a mockery of a prayer said for the laughs of those in a stadium?

To be sure, this prayer has become a source of mockery and laughs by many—especially those who do not follow Christ.

And while not many of us have our prayers “Songify’d”, I wonder if we are just as culpable of ridiculous and human-centered prayers.

Booogidy Boooooogidy Boooooogidy Amen.

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  • What it comes down to is that God sees the heart.  And, that He tells us to pray in a secret.  Praying for anyone’s approval other than God’s is NOT a good thing.  Speak to Him in a way that He hears you, in a way that you can express yourself and connect with Him.

  • I was fascinated by the segment “Intersession is required through
    priests who have dedicated their lives to serving God and through those
    already in our Father’s presence.”

    I grew up in a Catholic environment and no longer identify myself as Catholic.  I was wondering if you’d want to elaborate more on what you meant by the souls of mortals interceding for us in the heavenly realms.

  • No problem Murph! So, as I have come to understand it (though not practice this myself…sort of) is the asking for intercessory prayer from normal people. Asking you to pray for me can be a form of intercession as you approach God on my behalf. These are prayer “intensions.” Now, those that are already dead and pray for us as well, asking God for strength for an individual and so forth. I wrote a bit more on this a few days ago. http://bit.ly/nip33J

  • Ok, I was seeing where you were coming from.  Because I read that one a few days ago about saints and prayer, and was looking for the scriptural basis for mortal souls being able to intercede after physical death (because I’m 100% with you on the fact that we’re all eternal and all bonded through the spirit, but in terms of any intercession being able to happen post-mortem I look at Luke 16:30-31 and Hebrews 9:27 as compelling evidence that this probably isn’t the case).

    And as far as the priest/father being “required” to intercede for people, you’re speaking from the Catholic perspective saying that’s the viewpoint Catholics have correct?

  • Yes indeed. For my theology, Christ is the only intercession that I need between me and the Father. That being said, Catholic theology—everything about it—is done because they have such a reverence and awareness of the holiness of God. The Catholic rituals remind me a lot of Jewish rituals done to approach God before the blood of Christ. I can respect and honor that approach—especially one who genuinely sees things this way rather than the person who just prays and interacts out of ritualized habit. 

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