I pray for him. No question. I pray for his healing, for his salvation and for grace and mercy. I pray because it is my belief that, as a Christian, I am to pray, to intercede before God on behalf of humanity, for needs, for relationship with God. I pray. Therefore, I pray for Mr. Hitchens. More especially I pray for him because he is in the midst of a terrible fight against cancer while atheist.
Over at The Anchoress is this quote:
Jeffrey Goldberg, a colleague of Hitchens’s at The Atlantic Monthly, consulted the rabbinical authorities and decided that prayer was O.K. On his blog, Goldberg quoted the advice of David Wolpe, a Los Angeles rabbi who has publicly debated Hitchens on a number of occasions: “I would say it is appropriate and even mandatory to do what one can for another who is sick; and if you believe that praying helps, to pray. It is in any case an expression of one’s deep hopes. So yes, I will pray for him, but I will not insult him by asking or implying that he should be grateful for my prayers.” (emphasis mine)
On that bolded bit: Writing as a believer, I myself would get ticked if I was told I should be grateful for your prayers. How stinking arrogant is that? Really? People! Stop that crap. Shut up, pray and trust God. If you are praying to get the gratitude of the people you pray for I don’t even know what god you serve, but I have an inkling that it looks back at you in the mirror.
But I digress.
Hitchens was once interviewed by Marilyn Sewell, a Unitarian pastor. This exchange, to me, is specifically why I have absolutely no problem praying for a man who is so vocally an atheist:
Maryiln Sewell: The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make and [sic] distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?
Christopher Hitchens: I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.
I feel fairly confident in this – Hitchens would make a greater mockery of a Christian who abandoned prayer than of one who did not based on what people thought about prayer. If you actually believe, then your boots of prayer must necessarily hit the ground of dreadful cancer diagnosis in a fellow human. More especially a fellow human you admire.
So, I pray for Mr. Hitchens. May he receive excellent medical care, proper diagnosis, precise treatment, kindness from medical staff, understanding and comfort from friends and family and riotous laughter during this time.