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Saturday, July 25, 2015


I've been thinking about prayer quite a bit lately.  At home we say a prayer before every meal; I pray at bedtime;  sometimes at other moments during the day  Occasionally I have lit a candle and prayed at the Grotto at Notre Dame.

Our backyard--a place for prayer
My prayers are very basic.  I thank God for his blessings and I pray for those in need as well as our dear family members.  I often forget to pray for the larger community and world.

Two weeks ago President Obama asked us to pray for the families of the Marines murdered in Chattanooga.  I did, but of what value was that?  I don't know them and do not have the ability to do anything for them.  The latest Presidential candidate, Governor Kasich, asked for "prayers and support."  Did he really mean that or was it for effect?

Alexander McCall Smith, the prolific Scottish author, says about prayer through his protagonist Isabel Dalhousie, "prayer was a form of meditation, she decided, and it did not detract from its efficacy that nobody was listening."  But then she begins to think about it as "directed energy, and we should at least be open-minded on what directed energy might achieve." 

We know a young man who is spending a year of his life undergoing treatment for a rare form on cancer.  His whole family is suffering.  They request prayers and say they feel supported by prayers.   I do pray for him and them daily; but is that going to bring about healing?  I pray for healing.

Jim says he prays because God commands us to pray.  He says it is a recognition of our not being in control.  I agree and yet it seems like such a futile exercise at times.

I do believe that if I pray for someone in particular, I need to be in contact with that person in some way.  Maybe that means bringing some food or sending an email or sending a card.   I have had times when I have prayed particularly about difficult situations when I was working and an idea has popped into my head.  Was that an answer to prayer?

Henri Nouwen wrote somewhere "To not a futile effort to influence God's will, but a hospitable gesture by which we invite our neighbors into the center of our hearts."  I do like that idea of a "hospitable gesture." 

Larry Cunningham and Keith Egan wrote in Christian Spirituality that prayer says "that a person is not totally self-sufficient and does not regard himself or herself as totally autonomous or alone."

St. Augustine comforts me with these words:  "I shall look to you, Lord, by praying to you and in praying to you I shall believe in you."

So I will keep praying.

1 comment:

  1. A friend of ours recently needed a liver transplant. Their family naturally asked people to pray for one to become available, but then realized that, in effect, they were praying for someone to die in an accident. So she asked that people be very careful with how they prayed for her. [The surgery seems to have gone very well, she's recovering remarkably quickly.]