I heard about a woman this morning, who was given three days to live by the doctors. That was four days ago. Everyone she knows (who is religious that is) has apparently been praying feverishly for her to get better.
This morning those who know her are claiming a victory for prayer because she has survived one day more than the doctors gave her. I know that it must be a great relief for her family and friends, and as much as I hope that she will defy the prognosis and hang onto life for as long as possible, my rational self tells me that it is unlikely. The doctors are invariably correct in their prognosis when it comes to terminal illness, even if they are not accurate to within days of predicting life expectancy.
Unfortunately for all her family and friends whose anguish has been temporarily assuaged, their belief that prayer had anything to do with it, is hugely misplaced. I suppose one can’t really blame them for grasping onto any straw that presents itself, given their religious inclinations. I know that when the inevitable does eventually occur, they will forget about the prayer vigils and ascribe it to either god’s mercy in ending suffering, or conclude nonchalantly that “it was her time to go.” Such is the flexibility of religious piety.
I also read this afternoon that Ray McCauley, founder and chief pastor of the Rhema Church in South Africa, had heart surgery yesterday. Not surprisingly the church leadership ”asks the Christian community and other faith communities to pray for his speedy recovery.” Luckily sanity prevailed when Ray chose surgery, rather than leave it to the faith community to pray him out of trouble. Off course, his recovery will be speedy, since science made it possible, but the faith community will claim a victory for prayer; such is the nature of religious opportunism.
I am sure that Ray will return to the pulpit after recovering, decrying the evils of science, while punting the power of prayer and faith. For him at least all will be well for some time to come; not so for the poor women who was given a few days to live…