Monday, July 28, 2008

Small Miracles?

I'm not one to get my wisdom from cartoon TV shows on Prime Time, but something interesting was said last night on a repeat of American Dad (a show which I loathe, but without internet at home, I needed background noise). The episode was about the Dad being frustrated with a friend of his who had everything in common with him, except that this friend was an athiest. The Dad goes to all lengths to try and drive his friend to believe in G-d, eventually driving him to suicide, which fails. The friend ends up in the hospital and the Dad prays to G-d that if the friend should live, he'll accept him no matter what he believes. Just then, the friend wakes up and tells how G-d kicked him down to Hell where he sold his soul to Satan to return to earth.

Somewhere, I forget precisely where, in the episode, someone tells the Dad that G-d doesn't work like a vending machine. You don't put in a couple prayers and get something immediate in return.

This, as I've mentioned before, is my philosophy on small "miracles" and chances of random luck: avoiding getting a speeding ticket, a squirrel getting out of the street before you hit it, getting the right numbers in the lottery, running into the right person at the right time. These things, to me, are the wrong kinds of things we pray for and thus attribute immediately to G-d when they happen to work out. It's like reading your horoscope and mysteriously you find some way to make it fit into the way your day or week is going.

Maybe it's because of my "Christian" background, where if you wanted something you simply said a prayer and hoped for the best. I'd pray for a new toy or for so-and-so to ask me out or to get an A on a test I'd already taken, like somehow G-d could magically change the grade just because of my prayer.

As I've blogged about before, prayer isn't meant when we're asking for things. Prayer is meant for bigger things -- strength, healing, understanding, etc. G-d isn't a vending machine, and we can't plug quarters in and expect or even hope for a bag o' chips.
Prayer cannot bring water to parched fields, or mend a broken bridge, or rebuild a ruined city; but prayer can water an arid soul, mend a broken heart, and rebuild a weakened will. -- Gates of Prayer (Siddur)