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JewishJournal.com

August 1, 2008

Prayer warriors keep doing the oil dance

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/prayer_warrior_keep_doing_oil_dance_20080801/

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Hollywood prayer for lower gas prices

I continue to feel further and further ahead of the curve as the praying-for-lower-gas-prices movement motors on. The Associated Press reported this week that:

Two prayer services will be held at St. Louis gas stations to thank God for lower fuel prices and to ask that they continue to drop. Darrell Alexander, Midwest co-chair of the Pray at the Pump movement, says prayer gatherings will be held Monday afternoon and evening at a Mobil station west of downtown St. Louis.

Participants say they plan to buy gas, pray and then sing “We Shall Overcome” with a new verse, “We’ll have lower gas prices.”

“I’m going to have to ask these people to please stop or else risk divine wrath,” CK writes at Jewlicious.

I wouldn’t go that far, but I agree that God probably finds such petitioning annoying and shortsighted. Yes, he’s omnipotent and omniscient and omnipresent and omni-everything; there is no limit to the pleas he can hear and the problems he can fix. But is this really what he wants us spending our time praying about, a few pennies at the pump? Aren’t higher gas prices caused by our own behavior, and don’t we carry the seeds of the solution?

“People seek—what is the word I’m looking for?—relief in many ways,” Jeff Spring, a spokesman for the Automobile Club of Southern California, told me two years ago when I wrote about a group that had traveled from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles to pray for lower prices. “We would recommend they continue to try to cut their use of gas to try to lower the prices. Reduced demand will lower their prices.”

“What about asking for help from above?” I asked.

Spring demurred.

“I’ll leave that question up to the theologians.”

Believe it or not, this is not a dense field of theological research.

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