At some point you’ve probably read an article somewhere where priests or religious people ask you to pray for a certain cause. I’ve seen bishops ask people to pray for politicians, for impeachment trials, and for victims of various Acts of God, and it annoys me to no end that of all the good things people could do with their two hands, so many people settle for doing nothing more than bowing their heads and closing their eyes instead.
Wouldn’t the world be so much better if everyone who has ever prayed used that time instead to do something good for others? Instead of praying for typhoon victims, for example, donate a shirt or two at the nearest donation box. Instead of praying for god to end corruption, speak out every time you see it rear its head. Instead of praying for the protection of children, push for the prosecution of those who have been raping them in church, and those who’ve been protecting the rapists.
There’s so much we could accomplish as a society if people only stopped wishing that a giant magic hand would come down from the sky and fix things for us, and instead replaced praying for solutions with actually doing shit. Imagine if the “Global Day of Prayer” and the “World Day of Prayer” were replaced with the “Global Day of Actually Doing Shit” and the “World Day of Actually Doing Shit.” It’s quite a stretch that anything like that could ever happen, so let me help your imagination along.
Churches are often looking for ways to encourage actually doing shit among their people. A great way to get the most people actually doing shit is to design an actual shit-doing initiative — doing actual shit on a theme for a set period of time. Actual shit-doing initiatives disciple people to move beyond fix-it shit-doing for their own needs, and instead do actual People-focused shit that seek the power, blessing, and purposes of People.
Many denominations or organizations encourage a week of actually doing shit or develop materials for a 30- or 40-day shit-doing emphasis. A church can develop its own initiative, but there are lots of good ones available, complete with People-based shit-doing guides, sermon helps, and even promotional materials.
That is what it would sound like if this article was trying to do any actual good for the world instead of just trying to get people more people to do absolutely nothing. And here’s another better interpretation of a statement from yearofprayer.org:
The Year of Actually Doing Shit for Children is a project to encourage people everywhere to set aside a special time to actually do shit for children in their community and in the world.
Individuals are asked to commit 15 minutes daily to actually do shit for children. In addition, congregations and communities are invited to gather together for a “Day of Actually Doing Shit for Children” on the second Saturday of each month. “Nothing ever happens until people make a commitment”, says founder Reverend Harriett Walden. “Not everyone can physically intervene in the life of a child, but all children need our actual shit and everyone can actually do shit. In the tradition where I grew up, the actual shit of the elders kept the young people safe until they were old enough to actually do shit for themselves”.
I am of the personal opinion that the world is not short on good intentions. It is action that we are in short supply of, and it is action that we so desperately need. Anyone can pray for abused children, typhoon victims and world peace, but it is the people who get off their knees and actually do shit who make these prayers come true.
One might argue that there’s nothing wrong with imploring a deity to help the world, that a little prayer never hurt anyone, but when well-intentioned people are convinced that clasping their hands and muttering a few words actually accomplishes anything, all that good intention goes to waste. The conscience that would have driven them to action is sated by the delusion that someone up there will do all the work for them.
If all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing, and idle hands are the devil’s playground, then prayer is all the world needs to go to hell.