Prayercasting, also known as "strategic intercession," is my new favorite religious concept at which to laugh. Unlike traditional prayer (you know, kneeling bedside with folded hands asking God, in a creepy, whispery praying-voice, to give you stuff ), prayercasting is a more strategic way to get your prayers heard. It's done by gathering as many like-minded people in one location (real or virtual) and having them all pray for stuff at the same time, effectively shooting a giant beam of prayer up to God that's much stronger and more convincing than thousands of individual, scattered attempts.
Prayercast.com—my new favorite religious site at which to laugh—is a hub for praying types to join forces, virtually. You can either create your own prayer, choose from a series of stock ones or watch a video plea for your country. Just go to the map, select your home nation and click "Play" to hear a creepy, whispery praying-voice ask God to deliver that country from all the plagues that have beset it, such as a bad economy, abortion, the gay agenda or Sean Penn.
"We aim to provide God with a compelling site that will spur on heartfelt, strategic intercession," explains Prayercasting.com, implying that The Almighty surfs the Internet.
The father of prayercasting is Pastor Lou Engle. He's the guy who led the now-infamous online intercession in 2009 to defeat President Obama's healthcare bill.
"We're calling on you, oh Lord," he creepily whisper-prayed into the webcam. "Would you break into the hearts and minds of our senators? Would you rule over them?" Wow, talk about not knowing anything about the religion to which you have purportedly dedicated your life. The concept of prayer stands in paradoxical defiance of the teachings of organized Christianity in two important, non-negotiable ways.
The first is the paradox of free will. Remember, the scriptures say that God bestowed free will upon all mankind. So, how is God going to "break into the hearts and minds of our senators" without defiling the senators' free will?
Second is the paradox of "God's plan." The Bible teaches that God has a plan—the master plan—a plan he's been planning for a million millennia, and the fact that he, the supreme deity, planned the plan makes it a perfect plan by definition. So, isn't a prayer simply a plea for God to change his plan and go with yours, because you have a better one?
"We dare to believe, Father," Engle said, "that you overthrow [Obamacare]."
Wow! Who the hell does Lou Engle think he is? For all he knows, it could be God's plan to affirm Obamacare, which would mean, according to Engle, that God is on the wrong side of the issue. Can you imagine being God and having to hear this ass-pastor tell you which bills you should and shouldn't approve? It must be like that annoying back-seat-driver friend who always thinks he knows a better route than the one you're currently on.
"Dude, God, you should totally have taken Interstate 8 to the 163 and then the back road via Friars."
"Dude, mortal, you should take Interstate Shut the Fuck Up, then go right on Or I'll Shove You Out of the Car at Full Speed Avenue."
Prayercasting actually began as an analog endeavor, which is to say the gatherings—also known as prayer rallies—were held offline, in real venues, with thousands of real people combining their petitions into one, giant prayer laser to the heavens, such as when Pastor Engle led 33,000 people at Qualcomm Stadium to pray for Proposition 8—the initiative to fuck gay people in the ass—to pass.
"It was amazing," said Pastor Che Ahn, shortly after the Qualcomm event, captured on YouTube. "We had a 10-point deficit, and it disappeared. So we know that strategic intercession was crucial in shifting Prop. 8."
First, can we agree on the awesomeness of the term "strategic intercession"? It sounds like a military operation: "OK, Johnson, you take your unit over to that hill and provide prayer cover for the men at base. Anderson, bring your squad over to the church and put a prayer sniper in the bell tower; take out anyone who's praying opposite prayers."
Second, if it's true that prayer caused God to pass Prop. 8, then how did he do that without breaching the voters' free will? Did he "break into their minds" and force them to vote yes? Or maybe he just stuffed the ballot box, which wouldn't be very free will-y of him, either. The point is, if you believe the scriptures—if you are a Bible literalist—there is really only one way to pray, and it goes a little something like this:
(To be spoken in a creepy, whispery prayingvoice): Dear Father, as you already know, there's a lot of stuff I'm hoping you will give me. However, you already know if you are going to let me have these things, so what's the point of asking? Why do we keep playing this game? My knees hurt from kneeling, and this creepy, whispery praying-voice I'm using is freaking me out. So, if it's OK with you, Lord Thy God Almighty Father, I think I'll just go smoke some weed and play Xbox all day. What's that, Lord? My smoking weed and playing Xbox was part of your plan all along? Awesome! I'll be sure to let my wife know so she gets off my back about it.