For those who think God alters the outcome of a football game while today 30,000 children die from preventable disease, we pray. (Unvirtuous Abbey)
Unvirtuous Abbey is a Facebook page where the digital monks post humorous prayers about common aspects of society. For instance:
We pray for the kid texting how bored he is on a piece of technology that 20 years ago could have launched a space shuttle. Lord, have mercy.
For the Facebook option to hide people from timeline who you can't unfriend but wish you didn't know, Lord we give thanks. [BTW, I've never done this.]
People also send in their own prayers. I particularly like this one:
For those who slow down to let you in when you don't have a prayer of changing lanes, we give thanks.
I also liked this submission:
For those who think that posting cute cat pictures on Facebook actually helps anyone in any way, we pray to the Lord--even as we eagerly await more cute cat pictures..
Yesterday's prayer, however, stayed with me a good bit of the day:
For those who think God alters the outcome of a football game while today 30,000 children die from preventable disease, we pray.
It makes sense, and I understand wanting to say this, but...
...if you take it to its logical conclusion, you never end up praying at all.
At least I did.
Actually, I did pray for other people, even though I didn't think it would do any good at all, but I didn't pray for myself. Whatever problems I had, I could always find someone with worse problems who didn't seem to be getting any relief. Should I pray for help when others are worse off? Is there any point in praying at all if others are stuck in horrible situations? How could I be selfish and pray for myself? Why would I be helped if they aren't?
I have no idea.
At the same time, my faith had already been fading fast. Is God even there? If He (She?) is, does He (She) care? Did God just get everything started, but that's pretty much it? Was I mistaken about everything I had believed for decades? Had I wasted all that time on faith? I still kept going to choir, but when we would say the Creed, I would preface everything with "I would like to believe..." instead of "We believe." I wasn't part of that "we."
This went on for a few years. I would pray for other people daily (probably pointlessly, but still...), but never for myself. The faith I had had for decades seemed to be gone. Nothing at church helped. In fact, it felt sad to watch everyone else so enthusiastic about something which didn't mean anything to me.
It would be wonderful, writing-wise, to be able to point to some event or dramatic realization on my part which reawakened my faith, but that didn't happen. I just realized, in mid-December (less than two months ago) that I believed. Strangely, I realized it at church, during a sermon, even though the sermon didn't have anything to do with my faith or doubts.
It was the first Sunday that daughter went to church with me when she was home during the Christmas break. Was that why I felt faith-hopeful again? Maybe it was just an emotional reaction to her being there.
However, she's been back at college again for three weeks, and I still believe. I'm not sure why, and I'm not going to bother analyzing it.
I also realized that I missed... well... talking to God. I had restricted my praying to praying for others, which is more important than anything else, but I missed all the rest of prayer.
[BTW, sometimes I feel that, prayer-wise, my purpose is to be the one saying, "Hey, really neat beetle! Thank you!" or "Wow, what a beautiful violet! Thank you!" - about the little things that often get overlooked.]
I was going to write this post yesterday, but then by the time I got home from choir, we had a nice long lunch conversation, dear husband and I took a walk at Ayr Mont - we ate a wonderful dinner, talked to daughter on Skype (happy!), watched a strange episode of Red Dwarf, and showed dear husband and older son a song on My Little Pony that reminded us of The Music Man ("Trouble, right here in River City!") in order to get psycho-Rimmer out of my head... I wasn't up to blogging by the time I got to it yesterday evening.
...What happens in prayer? Does God really listen and answer? I have no clue. But this much I've learned:
Prayer is an act of hallowing.
Imagine someone comes to you and shares a great burden. They share loss, failure, despair, fear, brokenness, or sickness. Their own or that of someone they love. What do you say upon listening? Thanks for sharing? Good luck with all that? I'm so sorry?
Something has happened, something was shared, that needs to be set apart from every other mundane and silly thing that has happened during the day. The moment needs to be hallowed--set apart, consecrated, made holy...
This makes sense. It doesn't answer anything, but it helps.