Roger Marolt: Winging a prayer
I’ve taken up praying about everything — from inoculations, injustices, inequalities, indifference, down to the eradication of dandelions. I might call it meditating, because I do it during yoga and standing on mountain peaks, but who am I kidding? I’m praying.
I had convinced myself that I shouldn’t pray about silly stuff and waste God’s time. But, as I have grown older, more and more things in this world seem either trivial or too big to tackle. It might be wisdom but probably lower testosterone. Nonetheless, this process of self-selecting what is worth praying about and what isn’t resulted in me praying less, and I don’t think that’s the point of it.
I figured I had two options: I could take on a more cynical worldview and start making prayer-worthy mountains out of molehills of the human condition, or I could stop panning life’s sludge searching for the nuggets deemed worthy of my worry and just pray about everything instead. I took option No. 2 and started winging prayers willy-nilly.
God knows everything, including what I want and what I need and when I need it. God has known these things since before the beginning of time and me, so there is no point in me suggesting tweaks to any of it. From what I’ve read, God doesn’t seem like a cold-hearted egoist who demands begging before he grants wishes. If that’s what God was all about, he might as well allow us to buy our way into Heaven, too.
So, is there any point to prayer if God is going to give us everything we need anyway? Remember the parable about the birds in the sky and the flowers in the field, how they want for nothing, and how much more God loves and takes care of us? I don’t think prayer is supposed to be a wish list like we might write a reminder to Santa. I think it’s a way to open up a conversation with God. It’s like talking about the weather with a friend at the post office to get a good discussion going. I don’t think God is shy but definitely not loud, either. I think God speaks softly and doesn’t carry a stick.
So, while prayer isn’t useful for giving God advice about what I need, it does encourage me to listen for a reply. I say something trivial and then focus, which makes it easier to pick up God’s voice. It takes practice. God could have a voice that sounds like a leaf blower or a car alarm, but that would be irritating. Because it isn’t like those things, I know with all the more certainty that God loves me.
So, when I tell you I have taken to praying about everything, I am serious. I haven’t prayed for the Yankees to win since I was about 7. Now I pray for a victory 162 times a summer. I let God decide if that’s trivial. When the Yankees win, I acknowledge God’s purpose in it, even if how it fits into the grand plan is totally beyond comprehension. If they lose, that’s part of the great plan, too. Either way, I am reminded that God was watching the games with me, and I end up satisfied for the good company. The same formula works with the big issues in my life — I talk, God listens, I accept the answer.
I believe God answers every prayer. It wasn’t always this way. If that was true, I thought, I would be rich and famous by now. The thing is, God sees right to the heart of my requests, to the core of what I am really asking for. It’s the syntax I use that fools only me. When I ask to win a Pulitzer, God knows I am really asking for love, security, a little breathing room, friends, acceptance, maybe even peace. Once I understood this, when the money tree doesn’t bear fruit, I sit in its shade and realize what a gift life is just the way I’m living it.
And so I sit here on a gorgeous spring morning writing these words and gazing occasionally out my window saying a short prayer that the dandelions and weeds cease their assault on my yard, even though I refuse to use weed killer. I am not at all certain why this is important to me. I am standing by anxiously to find out what I really just asked God for.
Roger Marolt thinks winging prayers has to be at least as cool as flying prayer flags. Email at email@example.com.
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