Monday, March 9, 2009

God Doesn't Need Our Prayers

This Sunday, almost on a whim, I attended the West Hollywood Presbyterian Church in West Hollywood. I think I went because I'm struggling to find what it is I really believe these days, and this church touted itself as having "No Condemnation Here!" and being in West Hollywood, it's mission was to promote acceptance and love for all people, including homosexuals.

Being only the second time attending a Sunday service since mid-September, I dragged out my blue dress shirt and slacks, and tried to find a tie that matched that wasn't in need of dry cleaning.

I can't believe I wore these ties to church. I must have been blind with apathy or misery at my own appearance to have worn that silver tie with visible stains, or my blue-green tie with brown patches of filth. Could I have been that disenchanted that I'd have worn those ties every Sunday, not caring that I looked like a slob?

I'm a bad homosexual, obviously. No regard for fashion.

That being said, this isn't a post about my clothing. This is a post about Prayer.

I pulled into the church parking lot, feeling conspicuous with my Utah license plate. It was a small congregation. I would not disappear, I'd be noticed. I snuck in quickly, sitting in a pew as the five people finished rehearsing a musical number. They rang a bell, calling the faithful in from the courtyard where they filed in and began the service.

(Without going TOO much off on a tangent, it's amazing to me the respect that other churches seem to have for their sanctuaries. People don't sit in the pews before church and yammer on. They have a courtyard, or another room where people converse before entering the chapel. I think Mormon's could take a page from this.)

Anyway, the sermon was about prayer. The woman who was speaking (I think she was the liturgist, but I'm unfamiliar with Presbyterianism) spoke at length about the importance of prayer, and especially praying for others, (Intercession--a term never used in Mormonism, and consequently new to me). I don't remember exactly what she said, but at one point during her sermon, I had a bit of personal revelation.

"God doesn't need our prayers."

God already KNOWS the desires of our hearts. God is omniscient. God doesn't take requests. God gives us what we need when the time is right.

We need prayer, not God.

We need prayer, because it focuses us on giving thanks for the joy and blessings in our life.

We need prayer, because it makes us concentrate on the needs of others, and open our minds to the reception of the spirit, who prompts us to do things that help build up Zion (heaven on earth).

We need prayer, because we're self centered and easily distracted. I am the least of you in this department. Even when I was an active Mormon, I was bad about prayer and scripture study. I hope to try and re-introduce that spirit of thanksgiving and selfless thought into my life.

We need prayer, because it helps us to verbalize and identify what it is that we really want.

To steal from a wonderful Musical about the Mormon Pioneers, "Trail of Dreams";

Angela (An Angel): All our dreams come true.
Brother Brown (The Trailboss): What? God simply asks 'What do you want?'
Angela: Something like that--and we simply answer with our lives.
Brother Brown: (a beat) Wait--did I answer well?
Angela: (Smiling, as she dances him into heaven) Dance, Brother Brown!

We need prayer. Call it meditation, visualization, self-actualization, or invocation--it's all the same to me. Clear your thoughts and focus on what you really want, and let your actions mirror these goals.

God will take care of the rest.


  1. Very wise, Ezra. Definitely words to live by, regardless of denomination. I have become convinced that God is so much bigger than any one church and He will reward "those who diligently seek Him" whoever or wherever they are.

  2. Wow.

    I'm impressed not only with the inspiration that you received (and the fact that you went to church!) :) but also with the eloquence with which you expressed it.

    I think I've always known this principle, but until I read your post I never knew I knew it, so thanks!

  3. Great post.

    Personal prayer has never been my strong point, so it's helpful to see you talk about it in a way that actually makes sense to me. God has already given us the tools we need, we just have to learn how to use them.

    Thanks! Very good timing for me too. :)

  4. Dear Ezra! How I love this post. I, too, have been seeking religion in other places I feel are not so judgmental and hard to handle. I had to stop praying the way I was taught because I never really connected to it. I never felt much kneeling by my bed and then rehearsing a set prayer.

    Now, through meditation and talking to a God that I believe in, one who loves us all and understands us, I understand it is important for me. But, in a way, I think God likes it to, even if he/she doesn't need it.

  5. This is so interesting.

    When I was a kid I found Mormonism irrelevant precisely because of a peripheral issue.

    Most of my friends were unbelievers, or protestants, or anything other than Mormons. They were people that were viewed as unworthy. Most of the people I associated with saw gentiles as either people to be converted, or subhumans to be ignored. We weren't supposed to care about them, for the most part.

    Also funny about the "neat, snappy gay" stereotype. When I first left home I moved into a little gay neighborhood in San Antonio TX. I didn't know what a gay neighborhood was at that point in my life and rent was cheap. My neighbors didn't tend to fit this narrow image which is promoted as the norm. In fact, many were overweight, poorly dressed, messy pigs who parked motorcycles on their front lawns.

    It must be pretty difficult to be expected to be all "Queer Eye" and GQ all the time. Society tries to pigeonhole everyone somehow.