Thoughts on prayer

August 5, 2019

           I can’t read the news without praying. I pray for a family in Minnesota that is struggling to keep a farm that has been in the family since 1888. I pray for a black couple in a Philadelphia suburb who were hassled by a new cop for driving in the upscale neighborhood where they live. And all those people who were shot in El Paso and Dayton! OMG!
         Then there are the emails. Two wonderful ladies from my church are in hospice. And the Facebook posts about illness and depression and the death of a younger brother.
         With all these new requests popping up daily I try to remember the general prayers for the hungry and the persecuted.
          And of course prayers for the powerful. I pray for Mr. Trump every day because I believe in God’s ability to transform anyone. I don’t agree with most of Trump’s policies and certainly can’t approve of his behavior, but when I pray for him I find my heart softened a little. It calms my anger and kindles my compassion. Even for Donald Trump.
          All too often, however, I forget the purpose of prayer.
          A Hindu friend — yes, Hindus pray too — told me once that too often we treat prayer like a trip to the mall. Gimme, gimme, gimme. Heal this one, change that one, comfort another. We skip praising our amazing God. Slide past thank yous for all our blessings. And ignore the real communication: confessing our failures, opening up about our fears and listening for his guidance.
          To paraphrase Kennedy’s famous line: Ask not what God can do for you, ask what you can do with God.