Wednesday, February 21, 2024

At What Point Do Prayers and Gratitude Become Selfish?

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Prayer is a profound factor. We predict it, say it, whisper or mutter it. Regardless of the faith, we can’t do with out it. It’s carried out 5 instances each day; in an incantation, meditation. Or on a Sunday morning in between sermons – heads nodding and palms joined collectively in beseechment. Or all day lengthy, muttering below our breaths to the one who hears all of it. 

We pray in opposition to accidents, failures, enemies inside and out, kidnappers and armed robbers, and the forces of darkness. We pray that the climate favours us. Typically, we even prolong our prayers to NEPA officers, hoping that their hearts are softened, particularly the particular person behind the facility change. 

And as if all of that’s not sufficient, we glance inwards, digging deeply into the innate elements of us, the elements closely saturated in intense competitors, after which we pray self-centred prayers. Like those the place we pray to be the primary to purchase a automobile amongst our siblings, or thank God that though some folks died yesterday, we’re alive.

It’s a frequent notion that people have an innate inclination in direction of self-interest, pushed by their instincts to compete for sources, accumulate energy, and purchase possessions. Insights from prevalent theories in biology, social science, politics and economics assert that people are solely self-interested. Rational alternative theory in economics, aimed toward understanding people and their motivation, posits that people are motivated to maximise their advantages and minimise prices. In accordance with this concept, human behaviour is essentially rooted in self-interest, and it may be defined by understanding how people attempt to optimise their utility. The underside line of this concept is just that human nature is self-interested.  

These self-serving behaviours are mirrored in the whole lot we do, from gatekeeping data, hogging workplace snacks, taking credit score for another person’s work, overindulging in buffet choices, to leaving our lane on the street and inflicting site visitors. It extends even to the form of prayers we provide – prayers that declare us because the go-to particular person within the household for cash or meals and ones that assert that in our absence, conferences wouldn’t begin or be held.

However not solely prayers, even within the gratitude we provide too. Typically, in a bid to indicate our deep appreciation to God, we go overboard. Our thanks are supplied in phrases ladened compared. Sure, we’re grateful, however how are you going to gauge the magnitude of our appreciation if we don’t make references to the sick within the hospital, those who’ve meals however can’t eat, those who slept final evening and didn’t get up, or those who went out however couldn’t return? We even embody the useless within the mortuary. After which we are saying: “It’s not that we’re mocking these folks, we’re simply utilizing it to glorify God.”

It brings to thoughts the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector the place the Pharisee, in giving his thanks, lifted his head and proclaimed, in a loud voice, that he was higher than the sinners – the robbers, evildoers, adulterers – and even the tax collector. In his self-involved gratitude, the Pharisee couldn’t see past himself. To try this meant recognising different folks, particularly these whom he thought of beneath him. 

One of many issues that gas egocentric prayers is the tradition of comparability, and a society crammed with individuals who have to check themselves to others earlier than understanding their place on this planet. It’s as if we place folks on a scale, and evaluate our numbers in opposition to theirs earlier than we conclude. If our quantity is decrease, we really feel insufficient, aspire to be like them, and covet their life in prayers. If we understand ourselves as superior, we bask in schadenfreude, thanking God that we’re not like them. This, in itself, isn’t incorrect, however at what level does it develop into self-centredness? As a result of, what do you imply once you pray and say, “Amongst my mates, might I be the primary to purchase a automobile,” or “Amongst my siblings, might I be the richest,” or “I pray that if I’m not round, household conferences can’t maintain. They need to await me to indicate up.” At what level does thanksgiving transfer from being grateful about your present state of affairs to unconsciously mocking different folks? The place can we draw the road?

The essence of our gratitude or prayers shouldn’t revolve round folks, no matter their social standing. If we derive inspiration to be grateful by placing others down, it necessitates a profound introspection into the true supply of our gratitude. If the world had been excellent, devoid of poverty, hospital admissions, violence, and injustice, would our gratitude persist? If we genuinely need success for our siblings, would we promote prayers that declare us, and us alone, as the top of our household?

In reality, we actually don’t should witness different folks’s tragedies to be grateful nor do we’ve to check to be prayerful.

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