A prayer is meant to save. In fact, it saves when nothing else can. Given the desperate and end of the line hopeless conditions under which the prayers are invoked, it is not quite appropriate to be in two minds over it. But such is human, ever the ungrateful one!
It is said that when the Titanic was sinking, there were two sorts of people. One who sent an SOS to nearby ships, another who sent it straight up to the lord above. Only the latter were saved. So what is it about a prayer that can be so diabolical?
A prayer is like a mortgaging your house or swiping your credit card to the limit. Ironically, these moves don’t just resemble prayers but are accompanied by them too. Coming back to the discussion at hand, in taking a desperate loan and making a prayer, you have partly transferred ownership of the situation to a higher authority.
You don’t decide whether your loan application will be considered, what terms you will be offered or what the eventual value of your house will be. You are in need and you can’t choose. If you receive nothing you can’t blame anyone, though we all do, and no matter how little you receive you can’t afford being ungrateful, though eventually we all are.
Life often throws up situations in which the most obstinate atheist looks up with longing. But the decision to utter those words for help is not easily made. In fact, the rumblings inside the head are enough to give a self-righteous man many a sleepless nights. The man often perceives them as ominous signs of weakness, much like the first cracks in the walls of a fort which had grown used to life under seize and relentless pounding.
The decision is not easy. If your prayers are granted, you can never go back to being a pure atheist. A part of your soul, no matter how insignificant, will always be indebted in return for this generosity. You can be blatant, defiant and claim that it is you who have turned the situation around, but your tone will lack the rage in company and may actually turn supple when no one is watching. No matter how forgetful men are, you will never be the same again.
Alternately, if your prayers go unanswered, it’s double whammy. Your original situation has not improved and you have to bear with the insult and rejection as well. You have rage but no solution. You have played the trump card and failed. You have undermined yourself and supplicated for the slightest chance at life only to be turned down. Now there is no hope left, no you left.
So, how does one pray and win? One way seems to be to pray casually and being totally indifferent to whatever the outcome is. But isn’t that impossible? The most basic requisite for a prayer to be considered is purity and sincerity of appeal. Doubt is the antithesis of prayer. So a casual prayer is doomed from the start, it is a lost cause.
Like all good propositions, I should coin a term for the above one too – we will call it The Supplicant’s Dilemma. However, we ask again, how does one pray and win? The only other way seems to be totally indifferent to whatever the outcome is. I have said it before so how is this method different from the one mentioned before?
The difference is in terms of attitude. This time, you are indifferent to the outcome but with optimism. Whatever happens – happens for the better. If the wish is granted, it’s a boon. If it’s not, then there is a grander design for you that for your lack of foresight you can’t comprehend. Even if the situation is still beyond relief, through some quirky turn of fate you will live to see another day, a better day when you can look back and thank god for not granting the foolish prayer.
It seems that prayers work better for the spirited optimists. The pessimists, the desperate and the atheist may actually lose when they pray, no matter what the outcome is. Like all else in the world, The Supplicant’s Dilemma favors the strong. There is no hope for the meek, they might as well be living on a prayer!