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Thursday, July 7, 2016

I Don't Want You to Pray for Me

Prayer doesn't work.

At least, not the way I've conditioned myself to believe it does.

Not the way I do it, like an automated email signature to the end of a hard conversation, diagnosis, or tragedies that simply don't make sense.

I say: I'll pray for you.

Then, because I'm human. Because I'm hopelessly flawed. Because it's not easy, I don't.

It's not intentional. It's not that I mean to be neglectful. It's more of a testament of how often I utter the phrase rather than the heart behind it.

For some odd chance that I do remember, if it's something really important and if I'm extra prudent in the way I use my time throughout the fringes of the day, prayer seems in a different realm from where I sit.

It's distracted.


Oftentimes selfish.

I know that God does hear the prayers that we offer in flip drags to the sky. I believe that He does. This is the God of grace and second-chances, after all. I'm sure He hears and answers the prayers that we offer the sky, like we're tossing scrap paper into a waste bin.

They're the prayers that fall off our lips like smoke.

The ones that we breathe out and watch disappear. Sometimes in the midst of our own hurts, faults and shortcomings, those are the best we can offer.

I have to believe these fly-by-night prayers of desperation, this total lack of discipline offered in a fit of rage or a moment of deep, desperate fear are sufficient. That there is grace sufficient for all of us. Even those of us who utter I'll pray for you more than we spend quiet, intentional time in prayer.

Not as a vocal filler. Not as a response to a horrific event from states away displayed on our phones and tablets. Not as a way to try to fill the void. To make it seem we're doing all that we can.

Because if tragedy unraveled in my life. If disease struck, if calamity was en vogue, if I was anxious or angry or confused or doubtful, I wouldn't want anyone to pray for me.

I'd want them to pray alongside me. 

As real, earnest, tucked away prayer that isn't proud. Or condescending.

Prayer that doesn't seek political or social gain through passive language.

Prayer that seeks justice. That encourages the oppressed.

Those are the prayers I want to offer. Those are the prayers I want to be a part of.

The prayers that are with not for. The prayers full of empathy. The prayers that change you. The prayers that give you another perspective.

The prayers that don't say "I told you so."

The prayers that motivate action. The kind that unite us. The kind that call us to love those who've wronged us, and the kind that encourage us to pull through when another, another, another tragedy strikes - and it seems like another is due. And it comes right on schedule.

I want to be the friend, the sister, the believer, the spectator, who prays alongside. Who says yes, I'll pray for you. But I'll be there. I'll answer your call in the middle of the night. I'll be honest. I'll send you flowers or maybe chocolate if things are really rough.

Those are the kind of prayers the world needs. The alongside prayers. Now more than ever.

photo credit: Summer and Serene via photopin (license)

photo credit: Peace and quiet via photopin (license)

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