“It is much easier for me to imagine a praying murderer, a praying prostitute, than a vain person praying. Nothing is so at odds with prayer as vanity.” Bonhoeffer
As I think on this quote, I’m puzzled and concerned. Vanity is something that has enraptured our culture. We obsess about clothes, cars, technology and accessories. Anything that makes us stand out and be noticed.
I think about people who paint their bodies with tattoos. Is there a deeper meaning to this art, or a silent cry, “Notice me, pay attention to me, I’m not worthless!” Are piercings an expression of individuality when so many are following the growing crowd?
But often, those who the culture looks down upon are the same ones that pray the most. Some may visit church regularly, or not at all. Some may not even be particularly religious. Yet, they pray to God. Maybe they see him as the man upstairs, or Charlton Heston, or Morgan Freedman. Maybe they see God as a woman, or the universe itself. But they pray.
Something spurs them to pray to the one they cannot see, cannot hear, cannot touch. Some may call this insanity. Others say they’re hedging their bets, just in case there is a God out there. Still, the murderer prays. The prostitute too. Even the homeless man says his prayers before he goes to bed.
They don’t have the luxury of vanity. They are not fabulously dress, influential, wealthy, powerful. The world walks by, as they live in the shadows, ignored, unloved. But they pray.
If the murderer & prostitute prays to God, why don’t we? With all of our wealth, beauty, and intelligence, we are not much different that them. We hide our insecurities with witty conversations, lavish vacations, and lusty rendezvous. And when we are alone, ignored by those who are supposed to praise us, will we pray too?