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I'm Disabled, but Please Don't Pray for Me

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Let me start this by stating I am not writing to belittle anyone’s religious beliefs or claim they are false.  I believe there is a God and we are here for a bigger purpose I may not understand yet. I believe there’s life after death, though I don’t know what it is. I grew up going to church every Sunday and still do most of the time. My religious beliefs are very personal and private to me. I don’t care what anyone else believes, whether it’s Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Atheism, Satanism or anything else. To each his own. I don’t care what you believe and I won’t judge, and I don’t expect anyone to judge me either.

That being said, I have had this situation happen to me on more than one occasion; all at different locations and involving different people.

I am a grown man with muscular dystrophy.  I have a visible physical disability.  I walk differently than others, which is very noticeable. So when I’m in public, sometimes a stranger comes up to me and asks, “Can I pray for you?” To be honest, I don’t mind if a person wants to do that.  Also, I didn’t know you needed a person’s permission to pray for them. I thought you just say a nice word before going to bed.

When the person asks if they can pray for me, I always think they mean later; like I said, before bed or something, but then the person puts a hand on my shoulder, closes their eyes, and starts singing a hymn. This is extremely awkward and uncomfortable. It’s in public, people are walking by and it feels very weird. Most of the time the prayer is not even well done.  This one guy who prayed for me in public started on go on a tangent about my nervous system, veins and bones. I had no idea what he was talking about. If you are going to pray for someone in public to their face, make sure you give them something with a little bit of quality; don’t spit ball the whole thing!

None of these people have ever been priests, ministers or pastors. Also, none of these public displays have ever been in or near a church. I am just saying there is a time and a place for something like this; a McDonald’s parking lot is not that place. A random street corner is not either!

I am a stand-up comedian. I must admit these situations have become a bit in my act. It is too ridiculous and silly not to joke about. Honestly, most of the time as these public displays occur I am holding back my chuckles. On a serious note though, I find what these people do offensive. They see I am disabled and assume my life is less than satisfying, and that I need prayers to make it better.

I do walk differently, but that’s about it. I am able to do things the same way most people are able to. I am able to drive a car, feed myself, bathe myself, earn an income, have a social life, and my disease is not life-threatening. I find myself to be rather fortunate. Things are pretty swell. However, there are those who do live with life-threatening diseases, have to stay in a hospital all day, are starving and homeless, live in war zones, are victims of abuse and more. If you believe in the power of prayer, perhaps you should pray for these people and others, not some guy you feel sorry for because you see he’s different.

Having a more visible disability, people sometimes go out of their way to be nice to me. This one time I walked into a bar, and a guy looked me up and down, then asked, “Can I buy you a drink?” Now I am not sure whether he offered because I’m disabled, however I like the direction he went. So from now on, when a stranger comes up to me and asks if they can pray for me, I’m going to reply, “No thanks, but can you buy me a beer?”

Originally published: October 9, 2018
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