When I pray for others, and attempt to send out nothing but love in an ever-widening circle towards all of my neighbors until those yet unborn are included, I inevitably end up opening this vacuum or void inside of me where anger and irrational hatred try to rush in and claim me.
It feels almost like the process of tzimtzum at a micro level. Since I am not God, I don’t have the option to leave this vacuum where it is at. I must become ever vigilant of it, because I know that it will always present itself to me when I pray out love for everyone.
I sometimes start by praying for world leaders. I pray for them to find peaceful solutions to state conflicts. I pray that they will listen to peacemakers, and ultimately hear God speaking to them, if they don’t already. I pray for their health, safety and salvation, as they are human beings like everyone else who deserve to be operating at their most resourceful capacities in order to accomplish objectives of peace and stability.
I pray for Jesus to come into this world. I mean this in every sort of way possible. I wait in anticipation of his birth each year as part of Advent. I pray for his return as a triumphant king over all of the nations of the earth. I pray for him to come into all of our hearts more and more–my heart is certainly in need of more Jesus and less E and the detritus of too much anger and lust.
For many years, I thought of the lines of “Jesus Loves Me” as pertaining only to little children. It wasn’t until life had become completely hopeless and out of my control, and I felt so lost and confused, that I began to see how weak I was, too. I merely had developed an illusion of being strong when I was a teenager and young adult. Of course, I am not strong, Jesus is.
I pray for all of the atheists in my life to be suddenly arrested by the awesome grace of God and love of Jesus. I pray that they will all wake up one morning and realize how little control they have over their own lives. I pray and hope that the moment comes for them long before they die. I see so many of them on Facebook lost and confused and only putting up brave, adult faces to the outside world. Their conception of Christ comes from whatever Sunday school education they had as children, and they have not given Jesus a chance as adults to have an adult relationship with him.
Most people, atheist or not, still have misguided notions about why God does or doesn’t step in to prevent bad things from happening to good people, and why God often doesn’t seem to hear their prayers. They don’t know about the realms beyond this one–most of what constitutes reality is not this physical one, but we are like fish in water when it comes to this 3D space+time reality. No amount of observations and experiments will convince a fish that there is a world beyond the one of water until the fish is yanked out of the pond and tries to breathe outside of the water. In that moment, the fish sees for the first time a much grander world, and also knows more about water than it ever did when it swam about in water unquestioningly.
The sad part for people, though, is that they are more likely to continue to believe only in this particular physical reality, even when hints, clues, signs, firsthand accounts, etc. indicate otherwise. It is a cozy kind of feeling, albeit a very cold and empty one, to go about believing that reality starts and ends with what you can grasp with your senses. Then, the awful business comes where the atheist demands proof from me for what I am saying, even as the atheist experiences so many things he or she can’t prove to me. An atheist who deeply loves her children can only hope that I have a shared experience or contain some natural empathy that enables me to understand that love to some degree. But, she will never be able to prove the love of her children to anyone anymore than I will be able to prove the existence of God. Likewise, I have a shared experience of God’s love with many fellow human beings–in fact, the majority of people on this earth still claim to have some kind of otherworldly experience that has given them a sense of that love, as there are many more people who believe in God than who don’t.
It would probably anger a lot of atheists to compare their lack of belief to the sociopath’s or psychopath’s inability to understand their love of their children, but I am guessing that the number of sociopaths + psychopaths is roughly equivalent percentage-wise to the ratio of atheists / believers.
All I can do is pray to God to insert experiences into the lives of the atheists I know–experiences that will help them come to see that there is much more of a reality than the one apprehended by the senses. And that when they bump up against the awesomeness of the Divine, they begin to realize that having a relationship with God is the only way to handle surviving in the face of such overwhelming power.