Tuesday, June 16, 2009


It's either that I'm getting older or that I'm more spiritual or that I have kids now. In any case, I find myself praying more that I ever thought I would. I remember that during my confirmation class (in the UCC church), we had to write some thoughts about our feelings and beliefs about faith. Mine took the form of a technical essay that posed uneducated hypotheses about such things as "what is the afterlife like" and "why we fold our hands when we pray."

I still don't know the answers to those questions. I do believe in the importance and value of prayer. Though I also believe that some prayer is good and some is not so good. I don't know the exact criteria, but I think that it probably depends on the context and the intent.

Here are three short stories about prayer:

For the sick
At 12 weeks, my wife and I took our still small 8 pound daughter to the hospital for open heart surgery. While in the hospital, prior to surgery, one of our pastors came, prayed, and gave us a prayer-shawl/blanket for her.

We sat with her through the night, watched the nurses prep her, and carried her down to the pediatric surgical area. My wife handed our tiny daughter to the anestesiologist, we kissed her, and walked away... I always assumed that we were walking away for good. After 5 hours of surgery, it was done and things had gone smoothly. I didn't think of it at the time, but we later learned that many were praying for our family.

As soon as we could, the prayer-shawl/blanket made it's way onto our daughter's ICU bed. 5 short days later, we were out of the hospital and at home again.

Over the next few weeks, we learned about all of the prayer circles and friends and pastoral prayers that had mentioned our tiny daughter. It means a lot to me to know that so many people were thinking about our family.

For the injured
Several years ago, a good friend in the church lost her husband in a sudden and violent crime. In the subsequent months, she received continuous pity from those around her. The crime made state-wide news and, as a result, our friend began receiving unsolicited emails of condolence from across the state stating that "I am praying for you and your family in this time of struggle." Few ever confronted her directly though. How does one politely ask "what's it like to have your husband die and to suddenly become a single-parent?" Instead, she got hushed whispers, warm "greetings," and a good deal of awkwardness.

The unrelenting attention and charity being offered eventually lead her to the painful decision that she must leave the church and her community in order to make any progress .

For the jobless
This past week, the company I work for "incurred a reduction in force" -- as we say. After the notifications were made, and those employees who did not lose their jobs recovered from the emotional intensity of watching their colleagues get walked out the door, one of the first reuqests was for a list of employees that were impacted to prepare a prayer list.

Blessings to all in need.

1 comment:

Stushie said...

A great witness to prayer, Paul. Thank you for sharing this.