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Beck - Profanity Prayers - Lyrics Meaning

This song is from Beck's 2008 album Modern Guilt. It is about a man who finds himself in a dirty casino living a materialistic life devoid of any significant purpose. The man wakes up one day, has a moment of clarity and sees the debauchery around him, and begins to look for answers. The answers he wants are not philosophical in nature; he simply wants to know what series of real world events has brought him to this crossroads. This leads to his question, "Who's gonna answer profanity prayers?" What Beck means here is that since his problems are derived from his unclean living, it doesn't seem prudent to appeal to a higher religious power for the answers. The man believes there should be a being grounded in reality that can answer these "dirty prayers".

As the song plays on into the second verse, Beck seemingly gives up finding answers when he says, "...pull all your books from the table and you stare into space..." This is essentially his white flag, surrendering to the dilemma. The man has resigned himself to this current purgatory until something comes along to serve as a sign for change. The song ends as the chorus is repeated several times signifying no resolution to the man's societal problems.