The 60th annual National Day of Prayer is upon us, and President Barack Obama has asked the U.S. faithful to collectively summon their religious zeal, praying for the greater good of the nation and the world.
Naturally, you'll probably pray the Cuisinart mixer fixes itself so you don't have to buy a new one. Or perhaps the Almighty can spare you another spring lost to fighting weeds and crabgrass in the front yard as your neighbor stands, watching in amusement atop his lush, absurdly-green lawn.
But whether you're in the habit of doing a ring around the Rosary, meditating or practice the salat five times a day, here are five things that may slip your mind when asking for the benevolence of your Lord. But there are some things that could use your God's best intentions.
1. The Economy
The last year has been marked by a stuttering recovery and things continue to be perilous. New claims for unemployment benefits fell 27,000 last week to 365,000, according to figures released by the Labor Department on Thursday.
The good news may continue, as a recent poll conducted by the Associated Press found economists expect unemployment to fall below 8 percent. Clearly, the good news for could benefit you and your neighbors. But don't put the prayer book away just yet.
Things might still take a turn for the worst -- and you could be on the wrong end of a very depressing meeting with your boss.
U.S. employers plan to cut 11 percent more jobs in April than they did in the same month last year -- 40,559 jobs, to be specific, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc.
All of this excludes the ongoing troubles across the Atlantic, as Europe's economy continues to unravel like a poorly-knit sweater. And should you take solace in any sort of intervention from the proverbial powers that be, the European Central Bank (equivalent to the U.S.'s Fed) announced it would hold interest rates steady despite recent troubles in Spain, Italy and the U.K., as well as tumbling manufacturing figures.
So while you're asking for a little help with the extra pounds you're sporting ahead of this summer, pray for a bit of economic help for the rest of us -- before you start praying to find a new job.
2. The Whole World
It seems pretty rote to say, things are getting pretty crazy everywhere. But unfortunately, things are pretty crazy out there.
Take your pick of prayer targets. Here's a brief, but not definitive, list:
- Iran: The machinations involving the Iranian regime's nuclear ambitions continue to hang over international relations, complicating once-simple dealings. What else could get Japan to offer a diplomatic nudging to Israel? What other matter could get the U.S. to strong-arm India into changing its import habits? It all creates a ripple-effect with broad implications. Divine intervention may be as good a cure as any.
- Civil Rights: Here the list of offenders is myriad. Take your pick of Syria, Sudan, or China for starters. Work your holy way out from there.
- Kim Jong-Un's Toys: Sure, North Korea fired a dud into the sky in April, but a recent report states the nation could have enough weapons-grade uranium for six atomic bombs. Praying the tubby leader of North Korea can't get a rocket off the ground may get your god's attention.
3. Former NFL Prayers
Sure, your team of choice is probably struggling through a playoff slump (or maybe you're lucky) but bowing your head for continued success may be shortsighted. The sports world has bigger troubles to handle, after the alleged suicide of NFL great Junior Seau on Wednesday.
The linebacker's death adds to a growing list of former NFL players who died from suicides that could be related to health issues after a career of knocking around bodies like human wrecking balls. Add in the New Orleans Saints' ongoing bounty-gate scandal, which most recently claimed linebacker Jonathan Vilma's 2012-13 season. You may consider requesting the almighty induce a sincere reassessment of America's football values -- alongside praying your star forward doesn't punch a fire extinguisher.
4. That's Enough, Justin Bieber
This is critical.
It's been about four years, two albums, one movie and a string of hits melting together into a cacophony of cooing, crooning and incessant repetitions of Bab-aaayyy, ooooo. But if history serves as a guide, the shelf life of tween-pop spewing uber-cuties is about three years, perhaps four if they're lucky (see: Jonas Brothers, Boyz II Men, N'Sync, etc.).
Well good news! Bieber's first hit, Baby, was released nearly three years ago. It may be time to pray the formerly-mop-headed overachiever falls into the same rubric.
Last month's release of his new single Boyfriend marked Bieber's first foray into using his post-puberty voice. But whereas predecessors like Justin Timberlake navigated the waters of adulthood to a string of hits, it appears the army of Bieber fans are destined to hear more bubble-gum lovey dovey tunes, only sung in a slightly deeper (and as a result, slightly creepier) voice. Lord, save us from this.
Fortunately, the public's taste has turned elsewhere. With only five weeks on Billboard's Hot 100 the charts, Boyfriend topped out at No. 2 before falling to No. 7. Meanwhile, the fun.'s equally inane We Are Young has spent 19 weeks on the charts, resting at the top spot before falling to No. 2.
Let's bear in mind a famous Jusin Bieber is a dangerous Justin Bieber. To date, his milder-sins include priming an army of 21 million Twitter followers to send us astray via inane hashtag trends that make no sense. And while his ongoing relationship with lukewarm talent Selena Gomez gives the kids a nice model for monogamy, ongoing rumors of a looming engagement are premature. Sorry Justin, we all can't marry our teenage sweethearts.
But most of all, the devotion level of his followers has reached dangerous heights. A 31-year-old pervert allegedly exploited the fervor of Bieber-ites to heinous ends, getting underage kids to willing toss him child pornography in exchange for tix.
Not bad enough? Well Justin Bieber also hurts small businesses. The Biebs' recent haircut cost a middling toy-maker over $100,000, making their little plastic Bieber wholly outdated with one trip to the stylist. One teen should not have that much power.
Yes, wishing ill upon anyone flies in the face of all religious teachings. So perhaps you should pray for a dose of clearheaded thinking (and good taste) from today's kids. It may just be enough to make 2012 the end of the scourge of Justin Bieber.
5. The iPhone 5
Apple, we all stopped fawning over the iPhone 4S after about two months. Just give us the 5 already.