Justin Bieber: Pray

So, Justin Bieber has a song called Pray. How about that? The Bieb has gone on record to discuss his Christian faith and there’s a bit of controversy going on at the moment about some of his convictions that have come across in a recent issue of Rolling Stone. So it was bound to happen that Bieber’s faith would be reflected in his music. Pray is Justin Bieber putting it out there and sharing his prayer life with the world.

And now I have some questions.

Who is Bieber praying to? Because Bieber has made his beliefs known, we can assume that it’s the Christian God. But it’s only an assumption. Nowhere does it mention who he’s praying to. The word “God” doesn’t appear once. Our prayers are a communication between us and the creator of the universe. We pray to him because we are in relationship with him. Because of that, it’s right and proper to address your prayers to the right person instead of just sending them out aimlessly into space.

Secondly, what is the young Canadian super star actually praying for? He rightly acknowledges that this is a sinful world we live in (“things aint right”). He reaches out to those who are experiencing pain and suffering. But what exactly does he want God to do about it? Does he want God to make them content with their situation? Does he want God to bring peace to the world? Does he want God to heal them? Does he want God to hurry up and send Jesus back so we can live in the New Creation? Does he want all of these things? We just don’t know. God hears our prayers (1 John 5:14-15). And although God knows what’s in our hearts (Psalm 131:23), it’s a good and helpful thing to tell him our needs and wants, you know, by using words. Because that’s what prayer is: asking God for stuff.

The thing that troubles me the most with this song is that I’m unsure what he means when he sings of the brighter/better day. He could be singing about heaven, where all the problems he sings about will no longer be an issue because Jesus has come back and turned the “aint right” into the right. However, I fear he may be singing something entirely different. He sings of his “vision” and how he can “make a change”. There is a danger here that the solution to all of these problems is not Jesus but mankind working together. That if we are all generous and work together, we can make this world a better place. Harness the vision and make a change. If this is what Bieber means when he sings this song, then it is not a Christian prayer. Because his hope isn’t in Jesus but in the goodness of man. And considering how sinful we all are, he’s in trouble if he’s counting on mankind for salvation.

I don’t mean to be harsh on the Biebs. After all, he’s a teenage pop star, not a 30-something-year-old with a degree in theology. But what isn’t said in Pray concerns me. Should we start singing Pray at church? I don’t think so. Should we give Bieber the benefit of the doubt? Yeah, I think we should.

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About Joel A Moroney

Associate Minister at St Luke's Anglican Church, Liverpool (in the Sydney Diocese). A very strange man, but he usually has Pez, so that makes it okay.
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