June 15, 2016

Why I Am Never #TiredofPraying

Image is from christianteens.about.com


"Go where the love is." -- Edie Brickell
A friend posted a social media message stating she was tired of praying after watching news reports of yet another mass murder/terrorist attack.
Most recently, it happened in Orlando, Florida, USA. Her frustration could have been tied to reports about San Bernadino, or Boston, or Paris, or Brussels, or many parts of Nigeria, or any number of places.
I took from her message how exhausted she felt from absorbing and processing these news reports, how emotionally draining it became to watch video of sobbing family members and friends of the dead, the wounded, the missing. She was no longer moved by memes that read "Pray for ------." She was tired of learning about roundups of suspects because these roundups didn't seem to slow the tide of those willing to violently take themselves and others away from this world.
I completely understand "go where the love is" as an admonition to embrace those who honor, love, and appreciate you for who you are and to avoid those who want to remake you in their image, or to hurt and destroy you.
I also understand prayer as the time and activity that connects me more deeply to my Creator.My heart and mind are always, by definition, open to the one who made me.  In prayer, I can choose to share those parts of myself most important to me: my dreams, my fears, my ambitions, my hopes---not only for myself, but also for the world. I re-learn and re-store the knowledge of God's love for all people, and the need for us to see the world through a divine, eternal lens. Without that lens, we will live forever in fear, frustrated and damaged by those who assert their rage and their pain without regard for others.
I am confident my prayers, and the prayers of others, "matter" and "work" because the world has not collapsed into total chaos---yet. There are still pockets of goodness where each of us can observe a better way to live and relate to ourselves and our surroundings.
Many of us know and understand this: if we pray for a good thing, we must do a good thing. Prayer brings me full circle: from thought to word to action. The completed action brings me to a new thought and a new word and a new action. So it goes. In prayer, I am reminded as I ask God to "do something", I commit myself to "do something" as well.
Real prayer is never a substitute for action. Prayer is guidance for action. Beware of those who say they have prayed and "put the matter into God's hands" and then return to their typical, habitual practices. Beware of those who do not change their actions after calling God into their situation. That is not prayer. That is dropping out.
I am not tired of praying because it is only in prayer that I can listen to what God has to say to me, personally and directly. I am not confused by those who claim to "pray" and then commit mass murder or any of the other destructive acts we have witnessed.
Jesus never told his followers to kill their enemies, or even to hate their enemies. He told his followers to pray for those who harmed them. Jesus did not want his followers poisioned by internalizing and absorbing and projecting the hateful actions of others. He did not encourage destructiveness because holding, or sending, that hateful energy accomplishes nothing: no relief from pain, no short or long term answer to injustice. It is possible to love and to still insist upon and create justice and fairness.
Prayer is the emotional and spiritual place where I am loved and I experience that love most personally and most powerfully. God's love is intensified and clairified for me in prayer. For that reason, I am never tired of praying.




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