Is prayer a symptom of insanity?
In a televised discussion about Vice President Mike Pence's religious views, in which he stated that Jesus speaks to him, Joy Behar, who is a panelist on the TV show The View, commented, "It's one thing to talk to Jesus. It's another thing when Jesus talks to you. That's called mental illness."
This was just the latest in a long series of foolish statements over the years by those on the political left that illustrate how ignorant they are when it comes to religious faith, as practiced by millions of Americans. They regard the sincerely religious as fools to be ridiculed.
The pattern has become familiar. They take a word or phrase out of context, focus on that, and then twist it into something it does not mean. Voilà: you have proof that Christians are ignorant, hateful bigots who intend to impose their views on you by force, or even burn you at the stake.
Ann Coulter, during an interview, stated that Christians consider themselves perfected Jews. Those who are unfamiliar with actual New Testament teachings misinterpreted this as an audacious claim that Christians are perfect. Coulter's expanded exposition of the matter was either ignored or further misunderstood.
These are but a two examples of astounding biblical illiteracy. This is tragic, because American history and its Constitution cannot be understood without understanding that the Founders were steeped in the Bible. Many of their written works assume that the reader is firmly grounded in Christian teachings.
This brings us to this question: how does one explain the proliferation and persistence of Christian faith? Why do millions of us study the Bible; attend church; and yes, pray to the God of the Universe, the Creator, nature's God? Are we all deluded? Are we hate-mongers? Or are we, as some atheists describe us, merely assortments of atoms that have no free will and, therefore, no choice in the matter of faith?
(If we are the latter, then by what logic can we be hated?)
The fact is that there is much to be gained by faith. Even some atheists admit that. At the very least, it can be considered a form of therapy, a coping mechanism in a world filled with grief and sorrow. Instead of self-destruction by drugs, or harmful over-indulgence in material pleasures, we can (according to some condescending atheists) have an imaginary friend who promises that after we die, we will finally be eternally happy. If these atheists are correct, then what harm can there be in religious faith?
Personal experience, however, shows us that faith has much deeper benefits than merely the therapeutic. Those who believe in miracles can find them, and thereby appreciate life to a depth that I doubt any atheist understands. Many of us have experienced the confusion and frustration, the emptiness, of life lived materially – and then had our eyes opened to the much wider world, the more real world, of spirit, of a love that surpasses understanding. God's wisdom seems like foolishness to the world.
When we speak to God, we find to our astonishment that He does indeed answer. These answers do not come in the form of psychosis, not in imaginary voices urging us to do harm. They are messages that come in many forms, seen in a sunset or heard though the innocent voice of a young child. Many times, they are like lightning strikes of sudden insight, inspirations. Oftentimes they catch us completely off guard. Quite often, they are admonitions, loving criticisms we may not wish to hear. We may even resist them for a time – for example, urgings to forgive someone who has hurt us or to offer help to those in need when we can scarce afford it.
There is so much more, but entire books of explanation would not suffice. Only by opening oneself to faith can one make an informed decision.
To Joy Behar, I will say this: God is speaking to you. You should listen.