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My Prayer

Timothy Kincaid

November 6th, 2009

This weekend Focus on the Family will host their final Love Won Out ex-gay dog and pony show before washing their hands of the movement and turning it over to Exodus International. And, knowing that there will be the usual protest, Exodus Youth Director Randy Thomas is calling for prayer.

I (Randy) won’t personally be at this particular event but having been to about 20 of them, every single one had some sort of protest and every single time the LWO team responds lovingly. Would you add praying for Wayne and his friends to your prayers for the conference? We’d greatly appreciate it.

I’ve been around long enough to know exactly what sort of prayers that will elicit. They will either be of the “smite the heathen” variety, or, more likely, of the sanctimonious “convict the heathen” stripe:

Jesus, show Wayne your love. Convict him of his sin. Deliver him from the bonds of darkness and the confusion of homosexuality that Satan has wrapped him in. He’s so devoted to his sinful cause; oh how he could be a warrior for You. Jesus, tug at his heart. Bring him into a relationship with You and show him that he’s wrong and we’re right!!

Well, that last part is never really prayed out loud, but it is the unsaid message behind the rest of the prayer. Praying for someone else’s conviction just makes you feel so good. Not only does it confirm your own certainties, but you get to be all “loving” while you are being self-affirming.

And as an extra-special bonus, you get to tell others, “Oh, that poor young man. It’s so sad. I prayed for him today.”

Which got me thinking.

At times I find myself telling anti-gay activists that I will pray for them. And I’m sure that they assume that if I really do pray for them that my prayers are a mirror image of those above.

But I don’t pray for God to smite them or for God to change their minds. In fact, some time ago I worked out a very different prayer, one that works for me.

It goes something like this:

God, please bless Anti-gay Activist Joe.

Give Joe happiness. Bring him peace and prosperity. Take away any hurt or unhappiness or dissatisfaction with his life. In fact, fill Joe with so much joy that he has no room left over for hatred and anger and bitterness towards my community.

Fill his days with interesting things. Bring delight into his family and merriment into his friends. Make his day meaningful and fulfilling. Fill his life with so much interest and purpose that he has no time left over to spend trying to make the lives of those in my community unpleasant.

And finally, God, bring Joe close to you. Give him a complete understanding of who you are. Startle and shock him with the degree to which you love him. Fill him completely with your love, so full that he only can spill love over to all who come in contact with him. And let him know that whether I’m right, or he’s right, or neither of us is right, it just doesn’t matter. Because it all comes down to love.

Now I know that many of our readers don’t believe in any deities or value any prayers. Many, many, many times that has been made abundantly clear. And some of you are always on the lookout for an opportunity to mock the faith of others. I’m really hoping that you’ll give this one a pass and decide that this thread really isn’t for you, so much.

But for those readers who do believe in God and prayer, I offer you my prayer for consideration. It may not work for you. But if it does, please consider praying for the organizers and participants at this weekend’s Love Won Out Conference. I think they could use some joy, love, peace, and satisfaction.

Comments

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Richard W. Fitch
November 6th, 2009 | LINK

I have for some time now had problems with the notion of “going into one’s closet” to pray. Yes, we need private periods of reflection and self-examination, but if prayer is to be effective, it requires the energy of a community/congregation. Whether you believe in a god or not the mutual sharing of concerns is what can bring about a sense of support, healing, affirmation and celebration. Thanks, Timothy, for sharing in this way. It is a meditation worth practicing.

Eshto
November 6th, 2009 | LINK

Don’t mean to mock, but I just don’t understand the meaning behind this. You’re saying you do NOT want God to change his mind? You just want God to love him, and nothing else matters?

I’m just, frankly, confused by that sentiment. Personally I wish they would see the error of their ways and realize they are hurting people.

Burr
November 6th, 2009 | LINK

I find myself quite the opposite Richard. To me public prayer is sort of like making your birthday wish public. It won’t come true that way. Jesus even proscribes against overly public displays of faith. Just my opinion, though.

And the way I take this prayer is rather than asking God to directly and immediately change someone’s mind, which is a wholly unreasonable and insulting thing to pray about, he’s asking God to help him realize how petty our differences are compared to the love we’re supposed to share for one another.

Leonard Drake
November 6th, 2009 | LINK

Eshto,

Perhaps, while the desire to see someone see the error of their ways and realize they are hurting people is the same argument / sentiment the anti-gays are using toward us. They feel we are in error (in not following interpretation “X” of religious texts and are hurting ourselves and others by living our “lifestyles). By only wishing wishing the person love, he wishes that filled with love, the person will be guided in his/her heart, filled with LOVE and not with HATE.

I hope I understanded this correctly. :-)

Steve
November 6th, 2009 | LINK

In my more Christian, prayer-oriented days, I was never much convinced that God needed directions from me.

God, as my prayers went, bless Tom with health, wisdom, peace, and grace. Give him everything he needs.

Amen.

Priya Lynn
November 7th, 2009 | LINK

In my experience most of the christians saying “I’ll pray for you” intend it as a thinly disguised insult. They’re really saying “There’s something wrong with you and you’re going to hell and I’m going to disingenously suggest I don’t want that.”.

Thom
November 7th, 2009 | LINK

Beautiful prayer, Timothy.

Ephilei
November 7th, 2009 | LINK

I went to LWO once and there was a peaceful protest. That didn’t stop LWO from calling half the town’s police. That’s loving? Fortunately the police had nothing to do. LWO attendees left with home-made signs in their windshields saying “fags go to hell” and the like. That’s loving? Meanwhile, the protest signs were entirely positive, all speaking about gays and God and nothing about FoF or ex-gays.

AdrianT
November 7th, 2009 | LINK

Tim’s prayer sounds a noble attempt to reach out with an olive branch. However, one of the problems with some of the most vicious anti-gay activists is that they claim to have all the answers. Because of this, an additional prayer, that our opponents be less certain of themselves, and to constantly seek answers, would be a good idea too.

GreenEyedLilo
November 7th, 2009 | LINK

I’m Pagan, but I really, really like this idea. Make them so busy loving and being happy that they don’t need to attack LGBTs (or anyone else) to shore up their faltering self-esteem. I have been to an LWO and seen and heard anti-gay activists. They do not strike me as happy or secure or satisfied. (To be fair, they often talk about how awful our lives are, too. Still.)

This Samhain, I asked the Gods for help in breaking anti-gay activists’ power over the L, G, B, and T people (and their children) in attendance. I’m glad I did that and will keep working for that, but this approach interests me, too.

@ Priya Lynn: I regard that “I’ll pray for you” as Christian-ese for “Ah, f*** you anyway.”

Priya Lynn
November 7th, 2009 | LINK

Yes GreenEyedLilo, that’s the way its always come across to me.

Aaron
November 7th, 2009 | LINK

Aww, Timothy, that was a beautiful prayer. You have inspired me.

Your love and wisdom have left an impression on me.

Peace, love and Joy to you always (I mean it, too).

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