Praying to the Wizard God

My friend’s son is hospitalized. This boy who was in and out of my home as a teenager, laughing with my daughter, doing homework, making plans for the future, always, always intentional about his actions.

He grew into a young man who married a fierce woman, had precious babies, and trained to become one of the top endurance athletes in the world. Strong of character. Strong of mind. Strong of faith. And it is simply not enough to say he is strong in body. He has spent years training his body for peak performance. It has literally been his career.

Yet beyond all that he is simply one of the sweetest, kindest people you’d ever want to call friend.


Did I mention that?

My youngest daughter’s age.

Too young to be confined to a respirator. Too young to be placed into a medically-induced coma or  intubated or any number of those things you and I read about daily.

So people around the world are praying for him, for his wife, for their young babies.

What does prayer look like when you don’t believe God is an interventionist? I asked my husband, as we walked the neighborhood pointing out the Trump flags.

It looks like talking to a close friend, my husband replied without pause. When you are talking to a good friend about your child being sick, you don’t expect them to step in and make your child well, do you? Don’t you just talk to them and tell them what’s going on, what you fear, what you hope for?

Yes, I suppose, that makes sense.  I can think of no time when I thought my friends were going to fix all the ills in my life.

Talking to God makes sense.

Hey God, it’s me, Karen.

Do you think God regards me as a meme of the privileged white woman, too?


I miss the faith I had at one time. A faith that was more an exercise in magical thinking than anything.

Instead of praying as if God were a close friend I was talking to, who listened and empathized really well; I would treat God like all those Karen memes suggest – as if my prayers were a take-out order that I wanted delivered on-time and to my personal satisfaction. Hurry up will you, God!

My very own Wizard God.

I am not even sure now that was faith as much as it was just a religious practice I picked up somewhere along the way.  Whatever it was – faith in a wizard God, or the religious doctrine of a capitalist – it gave me a sense of control that I miss, especially so during the time of a lethal pandemic.

Unburdening myself with a friend is comforting but offers me no assurances of magical intervention, and such intervention is really what I want right now. Is, truthfully, something I have been seeking for the past 3.75 years.

Why? seems to be the question I ask most often when I talk with God: Why? Why? Why? Sometimes I throw in a WTF, but God’s answer is almost always the same, no matter the supplication – I’m here. I told you I’d be here and I am. 

To which I almost always reply: Thank you for that. 

Ask anyone who is dealing with Covid, or who has survived Covid, what the worst part of it is and they almost always say the isolation of it, not having the ones they love most present with them. The aloneness of it all. Not having the comforting touch of a spouse. Not being able to hug or be hugged. Not being able to reassure their child with a smile or a kiss.

In that way Covid is the ultimate cruelty – when you need the love of family and friends most, their physical presence is denied you. It’s almost like Satan himself thought up this virus to mock God, to laugh at us as we scramble for ways to reach out to those we love best.

This boy I watched grow into a man is dealing with all that and more right now.

Join me in praying for him and his precious family, will you?

And do as he pleads: Wear a mask. 

Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Christian Bend (Mercer University Press).






Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.



about 1 year ago

Dear Karen, I hope you do not mind my commenting here (for the third time now i think) and i hope you will give me the benefit of the doubt that i am trying to do good. I am curious why you don't believe that God is an "Interventionist". The Bible repeatedly tells of Him healing the sick, raising the dead, and even giving miraculous financial provision. This is not even to mention that He "intervened" by coming to live among us as one of us for 33 years or so - and then died our death for us. A book that i thought was good which documents many recent miracles and supernatural visions is "The Case for Miracles" by Lee Strobel. I would encourage you, or anyone, to take a look at it, if they wish to be encouraged that God still hears and answers prayer today. Also, i would definitely say that God does not regard you, or anyone, as a cliche or a meme. He made us and knows us intimately to every corner of our body, psyche, and spirit. Jesus promised His followers that He would not leave us orphans, but has sent a Helper, His Spirit, Who is able to both comfort us and lead us in difficult times. I will plan to pray for the healing of your friend's son. I hope that you have a reasonably good coming week.


Karen Spears Zacharias

about 1 year ago

Travis: Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. Please just know it is not a reflection of your comments but a busyness on my behalf. Of course, I am always happy to hear the thoughts of others. There is a capriciousness to the notion of an Interventionist God. I address this in my book Will Jesus Buy Me a Doublewide? The notion that somehow something we do can persuade God to act on our behalf makes God into a puppet and us the puppet masters. It becomes a totally conditional relationship. God becomes a parent who gives in to his children because She grows weary of hearing them beg. The most prevalent formula among Evangelicals today is that God "blesses" me because I do all the right things. But if I am not being "blessed" it must be because either God has turned her back on me, or God is disappointed in me and thus denying me the thing I am pleading for (right now it is the health of a couple of friends in comas). This formula results in two things: We become either angry or arrogant. We think we are being blessed because we live lives pleasing to God. We think others are not being blessed because they aren't as righteous as us. Or we carry the burden of guilt around because obviously God hasn't answered our prayers the way we asked so we must have failed God somehow. This is the theology of the Gold Star, I believe. How many times have I heard or read someone say that God answered their prayers because they trusted, implying that others didn't get their prayers answered because they didn't trust enough. It's an exhausting faith. Instead, as one of my friends whose husband is hospitalized right now said: I have to trust God in the good and the bad. I think that's where I come down on this: I don't know much of anything but this one thing I do believe: God is good. I will trust in her goodness and not a formula to woo God's favor.



about 1 year ago

Hi Karen, I also have taken a while to respond because of events in my life. I appreciate your openness and willingness to dialogue. Yes, i agree that God does not always answer our prayers; nor can He really be manipulated by "magic" formulas. These things, to my thinking, though, do not mean that God never answers prayer nor that we should not ask for good things from Him. If a parent does not always give their children exactly what they want and does not allow themselves to be manipulated by their children, does that therefore mean that their children should never ask them for anything? Furthermore, if God does not want us to be persistent in prayer, then why did Jesus tell the parable that is recorded in Luke 18:2-8? God bless,


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