Today I drove by a church with a sign out front that said, “God responds to prayer not problems.” I thought, “What a horrible thing to say.” I’m all for the idea that God responds to prayer. I’m just fairly appalled that anyone would imply God won’t help you with a problem until you do pray. I guess if your problem is that you are knocked out cold from a blow you didn’t see coming, you’re just out of luck.
That’s the problem with reducing faith to pithy sayings that will fit on a sign by the side of the road. The world is full of petty-minded people presenting God to the world as equally petty-minded. No one really needs the signs to help that process along.
And so it is with that thought in mind that I read about the Southern Baptist minister who said that yoga was “not Christian.” Probably, you could fit this saying on a sign by the side of the road if you were so inclined, but maybe you should ask yourself first if you really want to preach to the world that God is petty-minded enough to hold it against millions of American Christians that they are doing some stretching exercises to strengthen muscles, relieve pain, and reduce stress.
And maybe you want to consider too whether you really want to tell people who are looking to talk to God in whatever way they can manage that there’s only one way to get it right and it’s real hard to actually hit the target on that one.
If that’s really what you want to say, though, try to fit it on the sign with the message that God doesn’t care about what happens to you until you say exactly the right words, which you probably won’t because they are magic words which only people extra special good enough anyway can figure out.
That’s what you’re saying after all if you say “God responds to prayer not problems.” And it’s what you’re saying if you say, “Quit stretching in ways that other people have used as prayer just in case you accidentally pray too and God decides to hate you for that.”
Believe that if you must. I like the version better that says, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for such is the Kingdom of God.”
We’re all just children here. Forbid us not.
If I had myself a sign, maybe that’s what I’d put on it.