The other day José and I had an interesting discussion about prayer. He was wondering why people go around asking for prayers while others keep offering to pray for someone else. He found this meaningless. Since I do both (only with some people) I started to think about it. Why pray at all?
Praying for myself
When I pray for myself, I pray for strength, for peace and most of all for acceptance of whatever situation comes my way. I also pray that should remain authentic and honest in my interactions and responses to people and situations.
I draw prayer round me like a dark protective wall, withdraw inside it as one might into a convent cell and then step outside again, calmer and stronger and more collected again. – Etty Hillesum
I think that prayer is a way to get people to focus positive attention on a situation so that it is resolved in the best possible way. But more importantly that we realize what the best possible way is!
Praying for others
If I ask you to pray for me, I am asking you to journey with me as I try to find a solution to a problem or make peace with a situation. Similarly, when I offer to pray for you, I’m offering to accompany you on your journey through a situation you are facing.
If neither of us has a predetermined notion of what we want as a result of this prayer, except peace of mind, then we’re fine.
In the last few months, I’ve been asking a young friend of mine to pray for me. When I ask him what he prays, he responds, “All is well”. While he might not have his grammar in place, I do appreciate the prayer. What can be better than to ask God to be in charge and to be assured that all is well? It reminds me of that famous hymn, the lyrics of which go like this: Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well, with my soul.
Pray, but do
All praying requires that you do your part. I can’t ask you to pray for me to pass an exam I haven’t studied for! I love this story that illustrates this point.
A disciple came riding on his camel to the tent of his Sufi Master. He dismounted and walked right into the tent, bowed low and said, “So great is my trust in God that I have left my camel outside untied, convinced that God protects the interests of those who love him.”
“Go tie your camel, you fool!” said the Master. “God cannot be bothered doing for you what you are perfectly capable of doing for yourself.”
Source: Prayer of the Frog by Anthony de Mello
I’m sure many of you pray. If you do, share with me your reasons. I’d love to hear your reasons if you don’t either.
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