Pray for us: The End of the Road, Part 3

Prayer is for the living. So that they can forget the dead. So they can forget death. So they can forget that, like everyone else, they’re dying.

Through Andrew Sullivan’s blog I discovered a Facebook page called “Pray for these two Arrogant White People One of Whom has a brain tumor.”

It wasn’t really called that but I can’t be bothered to remember their names.

Every status update contained some variation of this:

We are praying that on the next doctor’s visit the brain tumor will be withered away! In Jesus’ Name, we believe in the power of prayer!”

Sullivan claims they are true Christians. That sounds about right.


When I was in high school, back when I spoke in tongues and sometimes ran the aisles having spiritual orgasms, I dreaded the event that my church called, A Prayer Service.

On the surface, it was for the sick. So that they could be healed.

A blind man named Brother Lars would always make his way to the platform to have the elders and the pastor lay hands on him. The Church would erupt in wails and baleful pleading. If they hadn’t been so vain they would have ripped their clothes and pulled out their hair in supplication. Rolled around in sackcloth and ashes like the real prophets.

Even then, even convinced as I was of God in my life, it disgusted me. This isn’t what we were called for, I thought. And I couldn’t imagine a buddhist praying for his tumor to be taken away.

And I don’t need to imagine these facts:

An estimated 15 million female babies have disappeared in China since the one-child policy was instituted in 1979.

But my church never had a prayer service for them.

Tens of thousands of Muslim Bosnian women were raped during ethnic cleansing there.

An untold number of gay men died alone, separated from their families who had abandoned them, died of complications due to HIV in Chicago, in Seatle, in cities across the world. They dropped like flies on the streets of New York City in 1989.

But my church never had a prayer service for them.

9 Afghani boys, collecting firewood in the morning for their families, were shot and killed from the air by coalition forces just last month.

Surely if gods were listening to prayers then they would be listening in those places, to those people’s families.


You won’t be surprised to learn that the blind man stayed blind and Brother Lars remained as cheerful and as positive as he had ever been. I always suspected that he was just humoring the flock.

I also don’t doubt that eventually that Facebook page will commemorate that man’s death and also hopefully his life. I hope he didn’t waste it asking to be spared what comes to all of us. Jesus did the same, and look what happened to him.


The last day of her life, my mom woke up from her morphine-aided coma, blinked and croaked angrily, What am I still doing here? Put me back!

She was my hero.

Maybe my cancer will kill me and maybe I will pray at some point. But if I do, I will pray to stay human and to die like I lived, as a man and with some humor and remembering who I am.

A nobody just like you.

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