August 11th, 2020
As a kid, the practice of prayer fascinated me.
The way I (and, it seems, a whole lot of adults) understood it, if you needed something, you prayed for it.
Your grandpa’s sick? Pray for him.
Your cat got run over by an ice cream truck? Pray for her (and, while you’re at it, pray for ice cream, too).
Crops won’t grow because there’s no rain? Pray for it, then ask the rest of your community to pray for it, then ask people who don’t even practice the same faith as you to pray for it, because we’re all in this together, right?
But then my child brain would take a logical journey. If a prayer isn’t answered, then it would have to mean one of two things:
1. God isn’t real; or
2. He exists, but he is a cruel God.
When I brought this up, I was given conflicting and sometimes confusing responses, none satisfactory to me.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that someone explained it to me in more certain terms: when one prays, they do not pray for a someone or a something. They pray for God’s will to be done.
And that was absolutely brilliant to me. Because, you see, it closes the loophole. The prayer is answered, God exists; the prayer is not, God exists, but this was not a part of His plan.
But then my adult brain took a logical journey; if all we’re praying for is what God is going to do either way, then why do we do it?
I feel like we do it for ourselves.
Which may be an uncomfortable thing to consider for some. But I find it to be magical, and comforting. By making it personal, it transcends any one belief or religion; it becomes a person consciously, individually donating their compassion, thoughts, time and hope to another.
On top of that, it takes the pressure off. By letting go of the idea that your prayer will save someone, or it has to, you’re more able to deal with any and all possible outcomes.
Prayer with perspective makes you proactive.
And now the idea fascinates me more than ever.