shut up and prayI’ve blogged before about praying when you aren’t sure what to say, but I recently encountered a new issue.  This time I knew what to pray.  The problem was what I might say before I got around to the prayer.  To put it mildly, I was tempted to say something snotty.

I know a wide variety of people.  Some of them are Christian, some of them aren’t, and some of the people in each group of obnoxiously outspoken.  Among the non-Christians this often takes the form of how bigoted, narrow minded and scientifically impaired Christians are.

Do I need to point out just how much I love these comments?  Sure, they can point to Christians who are each of these things, but I can point to Christians who are anything but.

Then, about a week ago, one of these outspoken non-Christians posted a prayer request.  I skimmed past it before it registered and had to make my way back up the list of posts.  A friend was barely clinging onto life.  Please pray.

I’d love to say that my first reaction was “Yes, I’m praying.”  In all honesty, it took a minute to get there, because I never thought I would see this woman make a prayer request.  It took a minute for my brain to process that this wasn’t something else negative about religion or Christians, but I did eventually process it.

I’d love to say my second reaction was “Yes, I’m praying,” but I wasn’t there yet.  My second reaction was more like “wow, that’s nervy.”  And I so very badly wanted to point out the irony or this request.  My fingers hovered over the keyboard.

I’d love to say that I heard that still small voice telling me to behave myself.  Truthfully?  It may not have been there but it wasn’t all that small.

I’m sure I heard enamel pop off my teeth even as I put my fingers to the keyboard and typed, “I am praying…”

Even as I was processing all of this, I knew that pointing out how bizarre her request was would have only made her defensive.  There’s no chance she would have seen the error of her ways or been drawn to God.  And if there is no way a statement like that is going to help, I may as well admit that it would have been harmful.  It would have been one more bit of evidence about how intolerant and narrow-minded Christians are.

So I kept my mouth shut, although it was a struggle, and I prayed.

It’s been about a week and the man we were asked to pray for is much improved.  No, he’s not entirely well, but he’s off the ventilator and doing much better.  Prayer is, after all, a powerful thing.

And maybe, just maybe, this woman has now seen the power of God even if Christians still tick her off.