My Last Unanswered Prayer

My Last Unanswered Prayer April 26, 2018

Editor’s Note: After the recent heart-wrenching “Clergy Doubt” series, we could use a little levity. This post surely provides it. Like the other posts, this is a true story and it’s about a pastor’s changing beliefs – and, this case, a desperately needed change of clothes.   Enough – I don’t want to give it away!   //Linda LaScola, Editor

By Mason Lane

After many years of futility, I’d already resigned myself to the fact that the God I prayed to, always with the magic words of, “In the name AND blood of Jesus,” only seemed willing to cause an apparently dead battery to start a car engine or help with a flu fever, as long as I took aspirin.

I was living in the age of miracles for dead car batteries, not dead or blind humans like those in the amazing ancient Bible days. The promise of “If you ask anything in my name I will do it,” was like the promises politicians love to make.

It had been drummed into to my sheepish, credulous child’s brain about the Jewish guys who, after being warned not to touch the Ark of the Covenant, were instantly killed when they did.

(And they were just trying to stop it from falling!) I was certain that approaching God’s heavenly throne in prayer, without the blood protection, would be doing so at my own grave and perilous risk.

With this history and indoctrination, I now found myself in the pulpit, preaching my Sunday morning Pentecostal sermon about the Baptism in the Spirit and the blessing of speaking in tongues/ I didn’t know the word “glossolalia” at the time.

I’d just gotten over a bout of intense stomach flu and erroneously assumed all the nasty symptoms were now history. As I raised my Scofield Bible, Elmer Gantry style, punctuating my pronouncements, I suddenly felt an incredibly intense fullness and pressure in my sanctified intestines. I’d already learned enough from this virus to know that my colon was fully loaded like a frontiersman’s long buffalo rifle and was ready to explode. I also realized the trigger might not be under my control and the rifle had no safety.

In an instant, I shouted,

“Oh Glory!”

and signaled to my father, our associate pastor, to quickly come lead our closing hymn. He knew from my expression something was amiss with his son. I was at least ten minutes ahead of my typical quitting time, but the congregation didn’t seem to mind as the piano started up.

I quickly walked, stiff-legged, with my fully squeezed sphincter, while desperately praying and pleading internally;

“In Jesus name and blood, dear merciful Heavenly Father please grant my sphincter a modicum of additional strength like that granted to Samson. Please God!

A faster or more earnest Christian prayer has never been uttered.

Just before I reached the doorway to the stairway leading to the basement and restrooms in the basement, the explosion occurred. I grotesquely continued making my way to the safety of the porcelain throne. Gimping contortedly along I reached down with one hand and held my trouser cuff together to prevent leaving a CSI trail of embarrassment. Was another one of those celestial lessons designed to teach me humility? My short but urgent prayer request once again had received God’s chronic answer:

“NO!”

My wife came downstairs and quickly figured out what happened. She just as quickly left through a side entrance and returned with the necessary clothing replacement and a plastic bag for my formerly Sunday-best trousers and BVDs. While I finished tidying up and dressing, she visited with the remaining congregants explaining euphemistically that I had a “stomach cramp.” We drove home, where I took a long, hot shower.

That was my last prayer. It wasn’t too long before I left the pulpit and moved to Arizona where I escaped cold northern Indiana winters and the delusional Evangelical religion into which I’d been bullied as a malleable, credulous child.

==================

Bio: Mason Lane: As a credulous child, I was raised Christian fundamentalist Baptist. I later became a glory-shouting Pentecostal and was ordained by the Christian Faith Church Pentecostal in Mishawaka Indiana. I ceased believing in the irrational and supernatural at age 30, thanks primarily to reading the Bible while thinking. At the time of my de-supernaturalizing, I was General Manager of WHME-FM radio station, a Christian radio station, and Pastor of Christian Faith Church in Mishawaka, Indiana. I resigned both positions and moved to Phoenix, Arizona where I became dean of students at DeVry University.

I’m still a person of faith. My faith is now in science, nature, love, friends, family, music, humor, art, The US Constitution, the 5,000 year old Golden Rule and Separation of Religion and State.

>>>Photo Credits: By James Tissot – http://www.thejewishmuseum.org/onlinecollection/object_collection.php?objectid=26402&artistlist=1&an=James Jacques Joseph Tissot, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8857980

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Kevin K

    They say Yahweh answers all prayers, but sometimes the answer is “no”.

    Point proven … apparently.

    • Brian Curtis

      There are times when God just doesn’t give a… no, never mind.

      At least nothing hit the fan.

      • Jim Jones

        Unlike Mary Martin’s unfortunate experience.

  • I guess god is still into poop humor….

  • Jennny

    That was funny to read – but not funny for you at the time of course. I’d been dealing with the dissonances within my 50years of faith for a while when I had to have hospital treatment. So, my last prayer was then, in 2014. I don’t like needles and was very nervous. I expected to feel the everlasting arms of my wonderful heavenly father and be flooded with peace. Lots of friends were praying for me. I could hear patients in other cubicles talking, joking even, planning a holiday or a treat when this was over. Here in secular UK, it was unlikely they were x-tians. My DH sat with me, praying. God was conspicuous by his absence. I’d been told when god was distant, it was to teach us a lesson, he knew what was best for us. But, c’mon god, I thought, I’ve served you, worked my socks off for you for 5 decades, now is not the occasion to desert me, do it some other time. if I need to learn something. As a teacher in a poor area, I’d known some deadbeat dads, unfortunately, but even an alcohol or drug addict dad would turn up to support his child in a situation like I was experiencing. And my god was supposed to be a million times better than any human dad. It was like a revelation, medical science was going to heal me not god…because he didn’t exist.

    • Linda_LaScola

      Thanks for letting us know about your experience, Jennny. It’s one of just a few “revelation” stories that I’ve heard.

      • mason

        Guess I’m fortunate to have read many hundreds on TCP. Many, like me, have that moment where all the dissonances over the years come to a head and the revelation occurs; “I’ve been bamboozled, He doesn’t exist.”

    • mason

      Wow Jenny, thanks for telling about the great epiphany, after 50 years. These kind of last straw, no more of this, that does it, game conversion stories remind me of accounts by abused women who finally decide, “Enough is enough, I’m outta here,” are get away from their abusive husband.

      I love your “deadbeat dad” morality-caring comparison to “God.” I think of all the many years most of us clearly read in the “Good Book” what an immoral genocidal totalitarian deity our God was, but still rationalized it all with, “Well, He’s God, beyond our understanding” and other such nonsense, the same way an abused woman tells herself, “He’s my husband, he does love me.”

  • ElizabetB.

    Who but you, Mason, could spin a humorous deconversion story out of the event!! You and your wife were one formidible team that day! with able assist from your dad. Story definitely unique in genre. Sympathy & Hats off : )

    • mason

      Thanks ElizabetB, the experience gave me a lasting visceral understanding of epiphany; an usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something.

      • ElizabetB.

        ‘a visceral understanding’
        The metaphor maker never sleeps : )
        awesome

  • Pastor Disaster

    Hey Mason… I’ve recently escaped a full-time pastorate in Northern IL., Pentecostal, fundamentalism for the Phoenix, AZ valley area.

    I’d love to touch base …. if you’re close…

    • Linda_LaScola

      Hello Pastor — Are you a member of The Clergy Project? if so, you can reach Mason on the private forum there. If not, click http://clergyproject.org/nonbelieving-clergy-join/ To learn about the requirements for joining.

      • Pastor Disaster

        So sorry Mason and Linda! I’m not sure how I missed your comments (won’t happen again!).

        Yes, I am a member of the Clergy Project. I joined 3 or 4 years ago, but have been a lurker. Having to always pretend and worry about being “found out” tends to keep one in the shadows!

        • mason

          Well lurker or not, good to hear from you Pastor Disaster. Safety first … a good rule to follow in your circumstance. Hoping you’ll be able to resolve your difficult situation one day.

    • mason

      Gainesville Fl …. sounds like you’re a candidate for The Clergy Project … http://clergyproject.org/ request with John Compere that I be your “screener” … I’m on Facebook … Mason Lane Gainesville Fl… great to hear from you … I lived in Phoenix 69-79 …

    • Mr. James Parson

      OT: Just a couple I just always wanted to ask a pastor

      1. Did it ever bother you that there are dozens of flavors of Christianity, all claiming to be the right one or have the right interpretation?

      2. When you read the Bible and it prescribed death penalty for this, death penalty for that, did it ever make you question if it was a “good book” ?

      3. When you saw children repeat the very things they were taught, did you ever consider that they were too young to understand?

      4. Is Donald Trump a Christian?