This meme (like all memes) is trying to compartmentalize a universal practice into an "amusing" one liner. I've seen it floating around the internet before, but it seems to have exploded after the recent tragedies in Orlando. I've seen similar comments on news websites, blogs, and elsewhere. Well, surprise surprise! I have an opinion about it. So here it is:
1. How do you KNOW prayer doesn't help?
Can you, with 100% certainty, claim there is no God? Even most well-versed atheists say no such thing....they claim that there is no good evidence to prove God exists. So I'll bring out the old Paschal's wager: There are two possibilities: God exists, or He doesn't. If there is even the slightest chance that He could exist, why WOULDN'T you pray? Not the best argument for the existence of God, I know, but think about it. I have first hand seen miracles happen that defy logic and science...and these miracles were a result of prayer. I have seen incorrupt bodies of saints who have died hundreds of years ago...yet their bodies have never decayed (interesting that you don't find that phenomenon with non religious people...). So unless you can say that you know, without a doubt, that prayer is useless, then stop making that claim.
2. You are most likely being hypocritical
I went through one of the most difficult times in my life from November through February of last year, during my 2nd and 3rd trimester with Max. During two of those months, I literally could not move without extreme pain, and I lived on my couch (unable to take care of my family or myself). I had to quit my part time job. Interestingly enough, out of my (estimated) 1000+ Facebook and real life friends, family, and acquaintances, about 15 of those people actually PHYSICALLY helped me by watching my kids, cleaning my house, or bringing us meals. And you know what? THAT'S OKAY. People cannot possibly help in that way for every single tragedy that occurs. I would love to be able to drive to Orlando right now and shower all those grieving families with as much help as they needed, but I can't. And most likely, neither can you. I can't give blood, and haven't been able to since March 2012. I give money to my church, which is part of the worldwide Catholic Church...a Church that has clothed, fed, educated, and healed more people the past 2,000 years than any other organization. Do you know what I did receive more than anything during those difficult months in my life? Prayers. Good thoughts. "Positive vibes" (I'm still not sure what that means but I appreciated it just the same). Many of those people who said they were "thinking about me" were people who do not believe in the effectiveness of prayer. But even though they did not physically come to my house and help me take care of my family, IT STILL HELPED.
3. You have no idea how many people are making sacrifices for YOU.
Many of my non-Catholic friends probably don't know that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of cloistered groups of men and women around the entire world who devote their whole lives to prayer. These priests, monks, nuns, and other consecrated people have made a vow to never leave monasteries for the REST OF THEIR LIVES for any reason (unless, from what I understand, there is a medical emergency and they have to be taken to a hospital) so that they can avoid any distractions and devote their entire lives to prayer.
And do you know that prayer does not simply mean getting on your knees and talking to God? Scripture calls ALL OF US, not just the cloistered priests and nuns, to fast, or make sacrifices, for others. To offer up any suffering we might endure for the benefit of others. And the more someone is suffering, whether it be physically, emotionally, spiritually, or all of the above, the more powerful their prayers can be. We should be doing this every single day, whether it be offering up a very small paper cut for someone you know, all the way up to the turmoil and pain a terminal patient might offer up.
I suppose we will all find out after we die whether or not these prayers made a difference. If, indeed, God is real, and our prayers actually DO make a physical, tangible difference, we will surely find out in the next life exactly who prayed and made sacrifices for us. You might be surprised how many people that actually is.
So I'm going to pray, and I'm going to do it proudly, knowing that yes...I AM making a difference for those people. Just as so many have done for me during my times of need, now it's my turn to do it for them. And I trust that God's power is so infinitely strong that He can, indeed, help those people in this time of unspeakable grief.