Yes, I pray—but not to your god

by Eric Lucas

They approach a bit haltingly, these young women attired in pastel fabrics.

Eric Lucas“How long have you been saved?” they inquire.

“Saved?” I respond. I know what they’re after, but one has to let this conversation run its course.

“Well, I saw you praying, and I was so glad to see another believer here in the restaurant.” I raise my eyebrows. “What church do you go to? Baptist? Church of Christ?” They plow on earnestly.

That’s when I drop the bombshell, my own personal bazooka round aimed at American religiosity.

“I don’t go to church,” I say, pleasantly.

Silence.

“But you were praying,” they accuse me.

Yes, indeed, I was praying. These encounters invariably take place when I am on the road in America, have surrendered to expedience and stopped at a fast-food outlet for dinner. It might be Anaheim, it might be Amarillo. Wherever I am, I say a personal, silent prayer before my every meal, and have done so for 25 years. That’s a long time; my prayers were born in a search for spiritual discipline, and they have nothing to do with any religion. Not Christianity, not Judaism, not Islam. I don’t pray to Christ, or Yahweh, or Zoroaster, or Allah or even Mephistopheles. I don’t like organized religion. Doctrine annoys me. Scriptures are superstitious malarkey.

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