Friend: I hope the weather is nice for my party tomorrow.
Me: I’m sure it’ll be fine, we’ve had a good summer.
Friend: You should ask God to make sure it’s warm and sunny so we can swim.
Me: Hah! Okay sure, want to pray with me? (subnote: ever the overeager Christian!)
Friend: Mm..No, I think God actually hears your prayers, so you should just do it, I don’t want to.
Me: Well…but…okay. God please give us sunny weather tomorrow so we can go swimming, Amen.
This is a conversation I have more often than I would have expected. It usually is in a joking way, something simple like the weather or for traffic to be manageable. Sometimes it’s for more serious requests, still asked in a joking tone of course. I keep wondering though, Why not skip the middle man and pray yourself?
Why not pray?
Even if you don’t attend a church, or believe in Jesus, why not pray? Even if you are 100% sure there is no God, no one who is interested in your thoughts or requests, what harm does it really do? What’s the worst that could happen? There are plenty of non-religious, “spiritual”, self-help books that tell us to “Put our thoughts into the universe and they’ll come back to us”. Is prayer really that different from a focused meditation session?
So maybe it’s not that we can’t, but maybe we don’t know how to pray. Many of us might imagine the Judy Blume “Are you there God? It’s me…” as being so childish. What are we supposed to say? When I first started praying again it was such a last-ditch effort I didn’t care if I was praying correctly or not. But as time has gone on and my faith became more and more public, I find myself embarrassed by my…unskillful…prayer. Especially now that I’m in seminary, I’m asked to say Grace at tables with family on a very regular basis. I hadn’t thought about it until this past year, I never felt God judging my lack of praying prowess, but I just don’t have the experience of a pastor who has been publicly praying for years and years. I don’t know any pre-written prayers for Grace that sound like they’ve been written in the last century. My prayers are generally very…non-traditional. But I have come to the conclusion that it doesn’t really matter how we do it, so to show that a prayer doesn’t have to be some super arduous task, or super ritualistic, I thought I’d share a prayer that I could have (and would have) said this morning. Now, no laughing or smirking! Some day I’ll be all practiced and you’ll hear a gorgeous traditional and modern prayer with all the right words and phrases, but this is what I’ve got now: Read the rest of this entry »