Why does prayer feel good?

You have to understand that while the world’s financial systems are in a kind of meltdown mode, life can be difficult for your average Joe. I know how that difficulty feels. It’s not been easy for the last couple of years. When times are tough and money is tight, it is tempting to say a prayer. It would be so nice to simply ask for help and get it. No, I really mean it would be fucking awesome to simply bow my head and ask for help and then magically get it. Maybe you know how nice that would be, maybe you don’t. Either way I have to tell  you that magic to pay my electric bill would be JFA – Just Fucking Awesome.

Sadly, there is no such thing. I have to pay that bill or go without. I’m nobody and nowhere near too big to fail. I’m not going to get a bail out. Sometimes I sit on my back patio and have a smoke and I think about where I’m going to get the money from. What can I do to generate even a couple hundred more dollars per month? Some times I look up to the stars and wish that if the aliens are here, now would be a good time to scoop me up and take me to another galaxy. Still I’m left there on the patio trying to figure out how I’m going to pay that bill. I don’t have an answer, no closure, no assurance. I have only the idea that I have to do something else, something more, something different. I look at my very loyal dog laying there on the patio and I get the feeling that I want to cry because I have to figure out where the money will come from to buy more dog food. I try to remind myself that today 18000 people starved to death; my position is not even close to being that desperate. I’m one of the lucky people if you consider the entire globe in this situation. It still hurts. It is still debilitating at times. It is still emasculating. There is no band-aid for the feeling of helplessness and powerlessness. Don’t get me wrong. I want to go to the cupboard and pull out the bottle of feel better pills and take two to make sure that my psyche remains in tact as I charter my way through the rough spots. I looked. There is no bottle of feel better pills. Looks like I have to take this on one the chin like all the others. I have to take the hit and keep on going. It’s hard to know why I have to keep on going, but for some reason I do. Giving up doesn’t seem like a good idea. That doesn’t make me less desperate, nor does it make me more comfortable. It simply eliminates an option. Eliminating options seems to be a common thread lately.

All that I’ve done to get a new job, sometimes working at it 10-12 hours per day finally paid off. The stress has finally been set loose and my body reacted to the release of it, or at least to the partial release of it. A cold sore and some pimples. I kind of expected something like this would happen. I’ve seen tough times before. I’m sure I’ll see stressful times again. I never prayed nor wanted to pray this time around. It’s just a waste of time. People close to me had various reactions. One told me that they were praying for me and how god is good because he got me a job. I simply asked why he took the other job away unexpectedly and put me in this troubling position? My wife had a thought that as soon as I finished the built-in cabinets I built for the living room I would get a job. She’s now convinced she has some magic way to see the way the future will unfold. My next sizable raise won’t happen till I’ve constructed the door/wall for our formal dining area so that it is more like a real office. Funny how future events depend on my completing large projects on HER to-do list. Of all the reactions to the news, the one that didn’t make me roll my eyes a bit (or even at all) was the simple statement “Congratulations. You deserve a good job that you like doing! I’m very happy for you!” … can you imagine why?

The way that I see it is this, prayer makes you feel good while you are doing nothing at all. It relieves you of having to worry or figure out how to fix things. I think it is much more useful to thoughtfully ponder your situation and think of what you can do to make things better. Even small changes can make a big difference. It’s hard to think of small changes when you’re busy praying for someone else to come bail you out.

So why does prayer feel good?

Because it stops you from having to deal with the pain of getting through tough times… among other things.

My advice?

I kind of like that I got through a rough patch, and this was an extended one. What doesn’t kill me often does make me stronger. I advise forgetting how to pray or even wanting to pray. Know that it is going to hurt, take it on the chin, and never stop working on how to fix it, change it, or make it better… even when your chin is hurting. If you’re lucky you will have people around you who are supportive and can help you keep your chin up. They say that you can’t really feel alive till you know what death looks like. I’ve been weeks away from bankruptcy, jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, and a few other things. Perhaps not all of them count as near-death but they absolutely remind you how tenuous life really is; how close we all are to complete failure if the infrastructure we depend on fails; that we are about 6 missed meals away from anarchy; that despite all our weaknesses and foibles (here in the west) we are almost all of us much better off than any of the 16,000+ people who will have starved to death in the last 24 hours around the globe. It is not possible to feel as good as I feel right now if you have to credit a deity with the fruits of all your own hard work.

Forget how to pray. Forget you ever wanted to.

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