Image via Wikipedia
Still, this rather well-understood concept can be used to illustrate some heresies concerning God and His relationship to us humans. Writer, Anne Lamott, refers to writing to God and makes reference to His in-box. It was her way of referring to praying to God, putting her notions and her own requests in His in-box.
As a Christian of the Protestant variety, I try to study the Holy Bible with the idea of doing things “decently and in order” as the Scriptures admonish in I Corinthians 14:40. Whenever I see admonitions in the Bible, especially in the New Testament, I give them my attention, studying to see how much credence I need to give to them.
Back to God’s mailbox, if it resembles some of my email account in-boxes, it has multiple email messages with the same topic. If I open one of them, it will largely read the same as several others in my ‘Spam’ section. There are repetitions, so many of them that I largely just tend to delete the entire batch of them without taking time to read each one.
Vain repetitions is a topic that my Savior spoke about in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 6:5 reads, “And when praying, you must not be like the hypocrites. They are fond of standing and praying in the synagogues or at the corners of the wider streets, in order that men may see them. I solemnly tell you that they already have their reward.” Two verses later, in that same Sermon on the Mount, He said, “In praying, don’t use vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their much speaking.”
What does this mean? Is He telling us that saying common written prayers in unison is worthless? He taught us how to pray; remember the Sample Prayer, the one which many people call The Lord’s Prayer? He told us how to pray only two verses after the caution against using what He called ‘vain repetitions’. Are we not to pray that prayer?
Going back to God’s mailbox again, what would God do with all of those jillions of prayers, all with the same wording and most of them coming from people who were not even thinking about the meanings of the words they were using at the time? If He were to open one of those SPAM messages, it would read the same as all of the others. It would be meaningless to the God of Heaven.
Heathen people, those who have no true relationship with God, sometimes think that their multitude of words will be heard and honored by a god somewhere. I recall living in another country, one where Christianity is not honored at all. I noticed that in that particular country many gods are symbolised at once. It appears that the people feel that if they give respect to all of the god ideas on the planet, the One True God will be included and will be pleased enough to answer their pleas.
One wonders why it is so difficult for many people to see that God created mankind for fellowship with Him, to be His closest friend. It is similar to a parent whose child is the major interest in his or her life. He or she wants fellowship with that child desperately, to feel that the child feels the same degree of love for the parent that the parent feels for the child. In this relationship, does the parent want the child to have a string of beads to keep a count of how many times he asks for help? No, the parent wants the child to express his wants or needs in an understandable way. Then, the parent will consider the request. Many repetitions will not make the parent feel he or she is compelled to respond affirmatively.
God is the same. He knows our needs and our wants, even before we are aware of them. He does not simply respond to that which He already knows we need. He wants us to communicate with Him, to express the need and wait for the response from our Heavenly Father. God wants us to want to talk to him and to enjoy His presence in our lives.
God will respond in the way He chooses, no matter how many people try to ‘gang up’ on Him, all praying with the same requests over and over. He is God. No mob of people will force God to ‘give in’ and change His mind by signing verbal petitions to intimidate Him.
Once again, let’s return to God’s mailbox. Will many hundreds or thousands or millions of SPAM-type prayers coerce God? Lots of “Our Father” or “Hail Mary” or any other memorized pseudo prayers will do nothing to get particular responses. I suspect that God simply hits the DELETE button and goes on to the real messages from people who have a deeply-felt love for their God.