(This is my column for the March issue of our diocesan newspaper)
I hate spam. I mean the useless junk e-mail, I actually love the meat in a can. Every day I get tons of it(e-mail spam) for things I don't want, don't need and usually don't want to think about. But it keeps rolling in. Over the years I've found ways to help slow down the spam and to filter it out quickly so I can find the stuff that's really important.
I'm not quite sure how that led me to think about God but it did. I began to think about all the things that people pray for, some good, some bad. And I wondered if God ever thought of it as spam? Are we wasting the divine bandwidth with a lot of nonsense, a lot of selfish stuff? Is His inbox just overflowing with offers, requests, deals, and demands that He's just NOT interested in?
The more I thought about it the more my thoughts began to change on the subject. My first thought was “Yes, we all spam God with junk and we ought to stop”. I know in my own case some of what I pray for is pretty “poor, poor pitiful me” kinds of whining. I'm not proud of it, but there it is. But the longer I thought about it the more I thought “Are you really going to write a column telling people to pray less, to censor their talks with God? Do you really think WE should be deciding what is or isn't a waste of HIS time?”
So upon further reflection I've decided that God has the bandwidth to handle whatever we decide to send his way. His inbox has no upper limit on his storage space. There is no spam in the prayer life that exists between us and God. That's not to say that some of what we send out isn't whiny and selfish and not what is best for us. I keep remembering a line from the 1970's movie “Oh God” where the character of God is asked if he answers every prayer. He answers “Yes, and sometimes the answer is no.” God reads every e-mail we send him, spam or not. He considers our needs, our real needs, not just what we think our needs are. And every e-mail gets an answer. In real life the experts tell us not to respond to spam because you'll just insure that you get more spam. You let the other person know that there really is someone there and they'll keep sending you more and more and more.
I think that's just fine with God. Every request, no matter how important or trivial is a place for you and God to continue to talk. I think that's the goal. Just keep the lines of communication open, knowing that sometimes the answer will be no.
So keep on spamming.