When I was a pretty little kid, I got a beautifully illustrated children’s version of the Bible. Although my family was not religious and I have never been religious in a traditional sense, that Bible got me interested in learning more about Judaism, Christianity, and then many other religions and spiritual perspectives.
As I got integrated into public school starting in fifth grade, I was around a lot of peers who went to church every Sunday and then acted like total, well, not nice people the other days of the week. They were bullies, they ostracized others, and more. I remembered a passage I had read where Jesus tells his disciples that he did not want them to build extravagant temples. He didn’t want people to get so bogged down in ritual that thy forgot what they were actually supposed to be doing. I often wondered how that passage could cross my mind so often as a non-religious person yet be missed by so many people who claimed religious fervor. I figured I’d never really get an answer. Then all of a sudden, a college friend of mine said, “Hey, I’ve co-authored a book with two other ministers. Would you like to give us edits after doing a pre-reading?” The book was Never Pray Again, and it validated everything I had been thinking about organized religion for pretty much my entire life.
Don’t get me wrong though. Never Pray Again is not a manifesto in the classical sense. As a marketer much of my work involves making sure there is a “call to action.” You don’t just want to drive people to your website, you want to also tell them what to do once they get there. Buy this product, go to this page, etc. Never Pray Again highlights problems and inconsistencies, but the authors also suggest solutions, many of which are derived from the same Biblical source they reference every Sunday with their congregations.
The overriding “call to action” of Never Pray Again is very simple. Unfold your hands and get to work. What does that mean, exactly? It means if you see a poor person, don’t mouth a silent prayer to God that that person will eventually find food and shelter. Help them find it. It means that instead of hoping the world will get better and hoping your own life will get better just because you go to church every Sunday, you should go out into the world and try to make things better. The authors suggest you should get up and go because through Jesus God demonstrated that is how He wants things done. Jesus didn’t show up and say, “Gosh, I hope those people suffering from leprosy get better soon. God, do something about that.” He went out there and did the work himself.
Although the book’s backdrop is obviously the Christian faith, the wisdom inherent in the book applies to anyone of any faith, or even those who do not ascribe to any particular edict. Whether you pray or whether you just hope that things work out, there is another option, and that is to go out there and help things work out. The book is filled with examples of how to do just that.
Some of what this book has to say may challenge you if you are a devout Christian, but understand that this is not an attack on Christianity or you. It is rather a recommendation that everyone, Christian or not, can do a better job of living out what all of the great wisdom in the world has said for eternity. Be good to each other. Treat others as you would be treated. You will reap what you sow.
You can order this book (and I highly recommend that you do) from Chalice Press. Let me know what you think!