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Activist Faith

[In case you missed it Friday! With new autotuned version.]

It’s not often a prayer makes national news. Or that it would be viewed over 1.5 million times on YouTube. But Pastor Joe Helms’ recent NASCAR prayer has everyone talking–and many laughing–at how people talk with God.

Of course, not everyone is smiling. Many religious people find the humorous nature of the prayer offensive and perhaps rightly so. I don’t remember any product endorsements in the Lord’s Prayer and doubt the Apostle Peter would have include any prayer references to his “smoking hot wife.”

But there is another way to look at the issue: whether you like it or not, Helms’ Ricky Bobby-like intercession has people talking about prayer, an issue at the very heart of the Christian faith.

But what is prayer, really? The biblical perspective reflects prayer as a conversation with God. However, unlike what YouTube might call “the best prayer ever,” Christian prayer takes the form of a servant speaking with his or her leader rather than a flippant, joking attitude used to get attention. This practice of prayers for public display is at least as old as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, spiritual leaders Jesus condemned for using this spiritual practice to make themselves look good rather than to humbly communicate with God.

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At its core, prayer reveals our dependence on someone beyond ourselves to provide for our strength and daily needs. Whether this should include Goodyear or Ford may be a matter of debate, but what is undisputed in Scripture is that prayer is essential to all we do.

[New Autotuned version]

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If nothing else, perhaps the NASCAR prayer will encourage a few of us to pay better attention to our prayers a bit more than usual, making sure we address our heavenly Father with reverence, with love, and the respect due to a holy God.

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DILLON BURROUGHS is an author, activist, and co-founder of Activist Faith. Dillon served in Haiti following the epic 2010 earthquake and has investigated modern slavery in the US and internationally. His books include Undefending ChristianityNot in My Town (with Charles J. Powell), and Thirst No More (November). Discover more at ActivistFaith.org.

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