Taylor: Prayer does not depend on passwords

Every time I wake up my computer, it asks for my password.

Every time I wake up my computer, it asks for my password. I have passwords for my bank account, my credit cards, my e-mail program, three or four different software programs, my cell phone.

The other day, I stuck my chip-enabled credit card into the machine at the cashier’s counter. It asked for my PIN—another form of password.

I clicked the requisite digits. It didn’t accept them.

Wrong password, apparently. And you can’t argue with a magnetic stripe.

So much of life today depends on remembering, and using, the right password in the right place. “Don’t always use the same password,” the instructions always say. But how many different passwords can one person remember?

The instructions also say, “Don’t use an obvious password.”

I recall visiting a car rental agency. As the clerk fussed with my paperwork, the computer screen behind her said, “The password has been changed. The new password is ‘changed’.”

Passwords are crucial.

When we go to stay at our daughter’s house, to look after the grandchildren, I need a different password to access the Internet. It took me almost an hour to figure out that what I thought was a “6” was actually a lower-case “b.”

Without the right password, you can’t get in.

It feels a lot like what I used to be told about prayer. You need to use the right words, to get through.

When I was young, I was taught to end my bedtime prayers with the phrase, “in Christ’s name.” Prayers in church still always end with a similar formula. I think it’s supposed to persuade God that we have the right password, otherwise God won’t pay attention.

The great tsunami in the Indian Ocean occurred about eight years ago. In the wake of it (no pun intended) we heard stories about people caught up by the huge waves rolling ashore and then sucking everything back out to sea.

One of those stories came from a local man doing evangelistic work in Indonesia. As he went under for what might be the last time, he cried out, “Lord Jesus, save me!”

And sure enough, the next wave hurled him back up the shore to safety.

In his view, this proved the efficacy of his Christian faith. He had the right password.

Presumably, the hundreds of thousands who died didn’t have the right password. They belonged to less effective faiths.

What we don’t hear from, of course, are the people who also cried out to Jesus and didn’t get saved, because they’re not around to tell their story.

It’s said that only the victors get to write the histories.

No, I don’t believe that you need the right password to get through to God. God is not a vending machine programed to dispense the desired response if you insert the right coins. Or a juke box that plays pre-recorded selections when you push the right buttons.

I don’t know what God is. But I am sure what God isn’t, and I’m sure that making contact with God doesn’t depend on knowing the right passwords.