A lot of discussion centers around the evils of the Internet these days. Kids have too much access to content they otherwise wouldn’t have seen – be it violence, sex, drugs, etc. You can google how to make meth and bombs? I mean, I get it. Things are a little out of control.
But were they ever in control?
A very common pattern in humans is to think we’ve got it figured out – or at the very least, can definitely find the answer if only we do enough research and try harder. Which is true, if you’re studying for your first final in Philosophy 1113, but maybe not true if you’re trying to help the world be less…yucky.
I’ve said it before, I’ll probably say it a hundred more times – little things. Little things help cover the nasty gaping wounds in our society. Saying hi to the janitor in your office building, letting someone else go before you when merging (ugh), not taking someone’s head off for not knowing what you meant to say in a meeting – LITTLE moments, tiny movements. But they ripple. I think one of the smallest things with the biggest ripple effect in this world is to offer prayer on someone else’s behalf.
Preschool taught me the Lord’s prayer and the Lutheran common table prayer which, to this day, my entire family says at dinner. High school, I clung tightly to the serenity prayer. In college, my prayers turned into more of a question format: where are you; what do you want me to do; how do I get through this? A few years ago, I had the incredible luck of finding a kind of surrogate family when I moved to Dallas. They were a fantastic example of what faith and prayer look like in real life, in the dirty mess of a family who truly loves each other and is willing to get deep and hold tight. They taught me the common Catholic table blessing, which we said before eating every Sunday. I now find myself saying the first part when I see something beautiful in life – especially sunsets. Anne Lamott says the three biggest prayers in her life are HELP, THANKS, and WOW, which I find amazingly simple enough to repeat daily.
I do not believe there is one right way to pray, no set formula unlocking the beauty of grace. I think, truly, grace enters as soon as you open yourself to her. I love the old prayers, the reciting of words written before you were here, words which will be here when you are gone. But just as important are the words you offer up to the world in times of joy, peace and gratitude. Just as important are when you have a best friend who is in labor with her first baby, another who is looking for a new job, another in a big city with a lonely heart and you offer it up, asking for help, peace or love. Asking for an answer, or just a next step. Saying thanks.
This morning, I didn’t really feel like getting out of my bed at 6. Instead, I lay in the dark and said prayers for as many people as I could remember. And when I ran out of people who specifically I could speak to, I just prayed for groups of people in my life, in my city. Obviously, for the government because it is clearly broken. I spent 30 minutes sending these thoughts up, out of my head and into the dark. Am I changing circumstances for any of these people? Not immediately, maybe not where I can see. But I believe, with my whole heart, it does make a difference.
I don’t know what you believe and what you don’t, and that’s ok. You have to figure out what works for you in this world. I don’t think prayer is limited to those who believe in Jesus, though I do certainly think it helps to have an idea of who is on the other end of the line. Prayer is for everybody, so is grace. This is the fun part of this gift. Ask and you shall receive.
PS: In case you wanted to know these
- Lutheran common table prayer: Come Lord Jesus, be our guest and let these gifts to us be blessed. Amen
- Catholic common table prayer: Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen
- Serenity prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
- Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13):
- Our Father who art in heaven,
- hallowed be thy name.
- Thy kingdom come.
- Thy will be done
- on earth as it is in heaven.
- Give us this day our daily bread,
- and forgive us our trespasses,
- as we forgive those who trespass against us,
- and lead us not into temptation,
- but deliver us from evil.
- For thine is the kingdom,
- and the power, and the glory,
- for ever and ever.
This is the ninth post in a series, 31 Days of 6 a.m. To see a list of all posts, updated everyday in the month of October, click here. If you would like to have these posts delivered directly to you, enter your email address in the form located at the top right of the home page.