The Deacon's Bench

“Of the astonishing and flattering number of people who wrote to me when I fell so ill, very few failed to say one of two things. Either they assured me that they wouldn’t offend me by offering prayers or they tenderly insisted that they would pray anyway. Devotional Web sites consecrated special space to the question. (If you should read this in time, by all means keep in mind that September 20 has already been designated “Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day.”) Pat Archbold, at the National Catholic Register, and Deacon Greg Kandra were among the Roman Catholics who thought me a worthy object of prayer. Rabbi David Wolpe, author of “Why Faith Matters” and the leader of a major congregation in Los Angeles, said the same. He has been a debating partner of mine, as have several Protestant evangelical conservatives like Pastor Douglas Wilson of the New St. Andrews College and Larry Taunton of the Fixed Point Foundation in Birmingham, Alabama. Both wrote to say that their assemblies were praying for me. And it was to them that it first occurred to me to write back, asking: Praying for what?”

— Christopher Hitchens, in the current issue of Vanity Fair.
He was responding to this piece, among many others. 

“Praying for what?” Okay.  Good question. 

Speaking for myself, I’d say simply: praying for gifts.  Intangible, beautiful gifts.  Praying for things like grace, and light, and God’s tender mercies.  Praying for the gift of faith.  And time.  Time to accept what seems unacceptable — whether it’s a diagnosis, or a deity.

And praying, ultimately, for the gift of salvation — that a soul will be saved, and may know the hope of eternal life.


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