Thursday, April 7, 2011

Praying for the Pointless

I believe in prayer. I always have, but it's more for the comfort of our souls and growing closer to God that matters in the act of prayer {to me}. I'm convinced that what's going to happen will happen and we can't do a whole lot of begging or pleading to get those things to change. Sure, we can ask God for things, but we aren't guaranteed anything in this life (except death and taxes, right?). Praying for a miracle is nice, but I find it more beneficial to pray for comfort, strength, and guidance in a time of struggle. I didn't pray for God to bring my son back. He was dead upon arrival. I could do nothing to change that. I prayed and continue to plead with God that I might be given calmness, peace, and persistence to carry forward despite my sadness. I still pray for that. I'll always be sad. God isn't trying to change that and I don't want him to. I just want the strength to get up every morning despite my sadness. God's good with comfort and strength like that.

Since Andrew, my thoughts about prayer have changed. I feel like prayer need be less trivial. God seems to have better things to do than to listen to my prayers about it not raining on my vacation or healing me from a minor cough. Those things are going to work themselves out and no one is going to die because of it. They're just little bumps in the road we can handle. I just feel like other people in this world are suffering so much more than some of the trivial things we lay before God. I can't pray for friends who aren't getting sleep because they have a newborn who is (ugh) keeping them up all night. Oh how I have not an ounce of sadness or pity on them. I can pray for them to see the extreme blessing through the exhaustion. {An aside, I was reminded by my mom how brutally honest I can be--and often offensive in being so. I love ending sentences with conjunctions. Grammar gods must hate me. If you really know me, that's me in the flesh. No sugar coating, no fancy words. Just the real deal. It's not always nice and yes, I need to work on that because I truly don't like hurting those I love. And I'm not really trying to. It's a flaw, but one I sort of like and sort of hate all at the same time. The good news is that you'll always know what I'm thinking, right? Sarcasm runs through my veins.}

It's just, with prayer, I feel like we often pray in the "wrong" way. We ask God to do things that we already may know he isn't going to fulfill or do. Sure, I believe in miracles, but I also believe that they occur infrequently. And frankly, I believe that if God were to want to perform such a miracle, no prayer on my part would be good enough to warrant his grace, love, and gift to me. He does it because He wants to. I'm a mere mortal that has no divine power and little wisdom. I can just thank God for eternal comfort and pray for strength. Many people live life without muttering any prayer and are still granted miracles. You can't say they received the miracle because they were so fervently praying, can you? Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to "bad" people.

Rather than pray I "get the job" (not a real example. I'm not looking for one.), I pray for wisdom, a clear mind, and to be calmed and comforted during the interview. If the job is for me, I'll get it. That's already been predetermined. I don't think that by praying the job will just land in my lap because I begged God enough times, bargained with him, or any other reason. Because honestly... if I could have bargained my way to keeping my son, I would have given up every single material possession I own to see that it happened.

This whole prayer thought comes to me from a few books I've been reading in addition to realizing how transformed my prayers have become. I used to pray that God would make sure Andrew was safe, without defect, and was healthy. Well, he wasn't. Something wasn't right, and I don't believe if I would have prayed a million more times that God would have allowed the outcome to be any different. I cannot change the course of my life. If that were the case, I would pray about every little thing as to never run into an issue, ever. If I could pray that I will never become sick again, I would. Will I be spared of sickness, absolutely not. I will get sick. It's sort of expected. Maybe I'll add that to the list. Death, taxes, sickness.

My prayers have changed in both the way I pray and what I am "asking" for. Though God and I have been battling it out a bit (and in this battle, I've been provided with clarity on prayer, for instance), I am still praying. I just pray more for the way I handle life situations than for the actual outcome of events. So now for the title of the post. I touched on it a bit, but I'll drive it home right here. I believe we often pray for things that are trivial, and pointless. Why pray that God will allow your team to win the game when God isn't really causing you to win or lose? It's a prayer that should be changed to something like this, if it's worth praying about at all: God, give me the strength, determination, and persistence to play the best game I can today. That way, you're never disappointed and you're praying for the correct thing. You aren't going to win every game just because you threw God a shout-out.

To my understanding and belief, God doesn't cause bad things to happen, nor does he prevent them from happening. He is just there as our comfort source and divine strength when we feel as though our world has crumbled. He's got our back, but he can't cover us with a bubble for the rest of our lives. I believe he mourns along with us as our best friend and greatest support.

Totally my own opinions. It's the process of transformation I'm going through. It may not conform to the idealistic fundamentalist theology, but I'm not trying to fit a category. I'm just journaling, honestly, as always with whatever has been rattling my brain lately in this crazy whirlwind of baby sadness.


LauraJane said... [Reply to comment]

I'm not a religious person. I like to think I'm somewhat spiritual, but not really in a conscious way.

I think your idea to focus your prayers on helping you to "deal" with things, rather than ask for them, is a great perspective to have. I hate when people said things to me like, "it was God's plan" after we lost Jack... I don't think God wanted for us to be sad, nor to teach us a lesson- there are certainly worse people than us. But I do like the idea of praying for things which mean something, rather than trivial things.

Hope that made sense. :)

Newlywed Next Door said... [Reply to comment]

Very well put. I totally agree but many other people I know don't -- they pray that they find a parking space regularly -- I kid you not.

Sherri said... [Reply to comment]

I'm also gifted/cursed with brutal honesty! I also got the bonus of having inlaws that have huge hearts, that are easily hurt! lol!!! It's been quite the struggle for me to think about how I put things, and for them to take me with a grain of salt! I never intend to hurt... but I say it the way I see it!

Kelly said... [Reply to comment]

I love the way you put this. I prayed to God for things, but also for help in difficult situations. When Adam first got sick, I prayed to make him better. When I found out he had a brain injury, that was the moment I knew Adam wouldn't get better. I haven't prayed since. My reason is cuz I always thought God had a plan for me and that everything happened for a reason. I just can't accept this was the plan and I don't wanna know the reason. Maybe it wasn't God's plan, but it was just in my cards. Maybe it was just some freak of nature. Who knows. I'm rambling, but this post makes me think differently. Ask God for comfort and strength instead of being pissed at him for my situation. Thanks for making me think. :)

Molly said... [Reply to comment]

I think I am going to cry. once again, i wrote the longest comment ever and it erased it. maybe it was too long??? OMG!!! here's a shortened version:

I love honest people! I am too honest sometimes, and I get my self into trouble.

And I agree with you on the new moms/no sleep thing. right after my niece was born, my mom told me she wasn't sleeping much therefore my sister wasn't getting much sleep so "her life isn't all perfect." LMAO! That is when i told them to shove the baby talk to me. And I also asked if she'd like to trade places and have her baby permanently asleep. OMG!

Also agree on your prayer thoughts. Prayers have majorly evolved since Hayes died. I was just praying for peace the other night. not sure what else to pray for. peace will help me all around, I think.

had another comment on the prayer topic. scared this is going to get erased. send me your email address if you want to hear it haha

Solange, Nik and Caitlin said... [Reply to comment]

I completely agree with you and I love the way you put it. God is there for comfort and strength, not a genie in a bottle ready to grant us wishes when we ask.
By the way, I love your honesty. I always have. :)

Arnold Party of 5 said... [Reply to comment]

I have prayed everyday for 4 months for peace to be within your sweet (honest) soul.

Becky said... [Reply to comment]

When I found out Liam had spina bifida I was mad at God and felt for some reason I was getting punished. I tried hard to pray that things would be okay, especially when I heard we could get surgery to help him. Then we he died I was right back to that same mad at God feeling.
Since I have met many of you blm's I continue to pray but now I pray like you said for comfort and peace for myself and for the rest of you all. I also do now believe he is mourning with us. Good post

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

I agree with this in such a huge way. I don't post about this kind of thing because I have some crazy fundamentalist relatives and I can't talk politics or religion with them without wanting to stab something with a steak knife. My aunt called me shortly after Eliza died to tell me I shouldn't be so sad because it was all part of God's plan and someday the great reason for this would be revealed.

I told her that had better not be true, because there would be no reason he could give me that was good enough. Needless to say, the conversation did not end well and she's probably still praying for my heathen soul.

But I don't believe that God kills babies or gives people cancer. And I don't believe he has the ability to un-do those things and just chooses to withhold it. I think this life is our gift and it's a huge gift, but there are absolutely no guarantees it will work out the way we think it should. It's sort of scary to wake up from my laziness and realize that prayer isn't about asking for what I want, but asking for help to be better, stronger, braver, and more connected with other people. I admit, I'm not very good at praying these days. My best friend (who is a minister) says that's okay. I can take a break because a lot of other people are praying for me.

Thanks for posting this. (And ending sentences in prepositions is completely justified sometimes, in my English professorial opinion.)

JoyAndSorrow said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you for this post. You have given me so much to think about.