Sunday, June 12, 2011

Calling on God's help

It takes a really strong atheist not to call out to God in their moment of need. A number of people have told me how when they/their children were ill they have called out to God "If you're real, if you are there, please help me?" but then once things are fine we can forget to say thank you and keep saying thank you. There is a lovely part of the service at our church - where it says "Say thank you to God" and it's a good reminder to do that each week.

Today I said that prayer "God, please help" and thought how often have I sinned (my arrow has fallen short or I have strayed from the path - to give an accurate definition of sin) and not said "sorry" to God. We so often want his help on our terms and then slip back into our secular world.


  1. "It takes a really strong atheist not to call out to God in their moment of need."

    Is that because they have had some experience of Christianity from early years in the past though? I'd be interested in knowing how someone who had a purely humanist upbringing would behave? And equally what members of other faiths do, ones that don't necessarily follow the Abrahamic faiths, such as Hindus or Buddhists, or even modern pagans.

    I have a suspicion the personal background, which may not be there on the surface, which rises up on these occasions.

  2. All good points. I suppose I am limited in my experience in that even my atheist friends have generally had Christian backgrounds - whether through school, church or a combination of both. It would be interesting to understand where those without the "crutch" of faith gain their strength and hope from. Are they perhaps nihilists who just say "It is was it is"?

  3. For the ancient pagans, prayers were part of the fabric of their belief, but the Greeks and Romans, for example, would have given prayers to Asclepius, the god of healing.

    The original Hippocratic Oath began with the invocation "I swear by Apollo the Physician and by Asclepius and by Hygieia and Panacea and by all the gods"

    But I suppose one difference from the modern, is that votive offerings would be offered to all the gods, on occasions, if ill, the god of healing, if travelling by sea, the gods of the oceans etc. The nearest transposition of a world-view in which the gods form part of the pattern of daily life would be perhaps the cult of the saints, which can be seen as a transposition (and baptism) of the older pagan cults to Christianity.