Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

A Brief Aside

February 15, 2011

From my Simply in Season cookbook:

A shopper’s prayer
Provider God,
Transform this chore, this reluctant shopper.
Journey with me on this expedition of privilege.
I stroll past the breads cooling on the trolley;
yeast-smells proclaim their rising
and invite me to taste and see that they are good.
My hand hovers over the carrots, parsnips, beets….
Thank you for signs of your presence,
for foods and peoples rooted in the soil.
Bless me as I choose.
–Ruth Preston

 

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insecurity and prayer

August 18, 2010

Lately I have had a hard time praying. It’s weird, because I have always been comfortable talking to God. Maybe because I have always had a good relationship with my parents, and that comfort is easily transferred to the Father.

But lately…lately, no. I still feel great with my parents, but now I feel inferior when it comes to God. Like I don’t think I’m doing a good job, so it’s hard to face the boss. Or like it’s been too long since I’ve called an old friend, and now talking to him is all weird.

Whenever I start to pray, I think, “Is this something I should be praying about? Is it too shallow? Am I offending God with my stupid little request?” Even when I know it isn’t shallow, I think, “What if this is God’s will? What if I’m asking God to do something completely at odds with his greater plan?”

Thus my prayers have been unsatisfactory, awkward and far between.

Am I the only one who struggles with this?

Recently my mom called to tell me that my uncle has cancer and would be in the hospital for surgery. She asked me to pray, and I said I would, even though I was already uncomfortable.

(In my mind, praying is one of those things, like attending weddings and baptisms, that you just DO if someone asks you to. I think Jews call these things mitzvahs, or something along those lines.)

Anyway, I wanted to pray for my uncle. But I couldn’t find the words. I didn’t know what to say, what to ask for. Healing? Comfort? Ease of pain? The cancer to totally and miraculously disappear?

I finally prayed and asked God to be present with my uncle and his family, but I didn’t feel happy about what I had said. Fortunately, at the time, my recently-baptized daughter was riding in the car with me. I glimpsed her in the rearview mirror and thought, “Faith like a child.”

I asked the Bean to pray for her uncle, and I explained why. She said okay, then closed her eyes, folded her hands, and prayed. Simple as that. The prayer was finished in less than a minute. I didn’t hear what she said, but she had talked to God, and she was obviously at peace with the conversation.

That started me thinking. Why is talking to God so hard for me, when talking to other people I love isn’t? So I looked at my attitude toward prayer and compared it with my attitude toward talking to everyone else.

  1. Do I worry about saying the right thing with everyone? Well, yes, to some extent. I more or less speak my mind, but I tend to sprinkle my comments with disclaimers like: “I could be wrong.”
  2. Do I have to be in perfect agreement with everyone I talk to? No. I argue politics with my family all the time. I don’t like disagreements, but they happen. I can accept that.
  3. Does everything I say have to be profound? No. I would hardly talk at all if that were the case. (Maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.)

So maybe, maybe I just need to loosen up a little. Stop condemning myself for being imperfect. God is my Father, after all, and he loves me. Maybe prayer needs to be less about saying the right thing and more about just spending time with Dad.

Just a thought.

Retroactive prayer

September 17, 2009

Retroactive prayer is something I do far too often, if one can possibly pray too often. I usually do this when someone has asked me to pray for a specific event, but I forgot to do so until after the event has occurred. Then I pray, “Dear Lord, please let it have gone well.”

Aside from the awkward grammar, I wonder if this practice is theologically questionable. If I didn’t feel it was important enough to remember when the prayer was needed…is it hypocritical to pray afterward? Can my prayers change something after it has happened? Am I only fooling myself that my ignorance of an outcome can spin out the time in which I can affect it through prayer? I don’t know.

But then I encounter a situation like this:

A distant acquaintance is facing trial, accused of molesting his three-year-old daughter. He and his wife are enduring a bitter divorce. His wife filed the complaint…and later recanted. The police are pursuing the case, despite the withdrawn complaint.

There are here two possibilities. 1) The mother may have lied, and as a result, the father is facing public scrutiny, humiliation and possibly jail time. 2) The accusation may be true, and a three-year-old girl has had to endure something much, much worse.

That the father is under suspicion I cannot change. It is what is happening right now, and my faith is, alas, not strong enough to disbelieve what is staring me in the face.

However, I can and do pray to affect the past: “Father God, let the mother have lied.” Because I’d much rather the adult endure pain and suffering than the child.

Is it effective? I don’t know. I have no way of knowing. Only God knows. But I take comfort in this: God is the same today and yesterday and tomorrow. He is outside of time, so it is no challenge for Him to hear my now-prayer and apply it to then-events. And I devoutly pray that He does.