I must preface my remarks today with an observation. Love has become an almost meaningless word to me. It is so ubiquitous in our lexicon that it can refer to hamburgers, sex or a lifelong commitment. So I am going to stop using it. For today’s entry the word I will use to convey my thoughts is kind. Kind in this context is wanting the very best for another person.
As I have mentioned in previous postings this week, on Sunday my family will be going to Children’s Hospital so that my son can undergo two surgeries. Now there are a whole host of people that will be wanting to convey their sympathies for my son. Most of my family and childhood friends will express that sentiment by saying they will be praying for us.
Do I believe in prayer? Yes, but it took a very circuitous route for me to come back to belief in prayer. What I believe prayer is and what it does has radically changed over the years. Here is what I no longer believe: rayer is not the Jerry Lewis telethon. Whatever your concept of God is, I am quite sure her/his eternal plans are not impacted by the number and sincerity of “calls” that come in.
“Little Billy got the requisite number of 900 prayers to cure his cancer, but sadly his Aunt Suzie’s prayer did not seem genuine enough leaving him one short, so it’s death for him.”
I just don’t think the universe works that way.
Here is what I do think prayer does: When someone says they are praying for me, they are reaching out with kindness and expressing that they want the very best for me. That does two things in my book. First it gives me a psychological boost knowing that someone has got my back and is partnering with the most powerful concept they can conceive of, namely God. Secondly I think praying for someone else makes the prayer more in tune with the pain in the world. I bet it makes them act just a little bit more kindly towards other people in their lives. That gives suffering meaning. Even if the subject of prayer has a tragic outcome, knowing that their suffering made other people act just a little bit more kindly gives some meaning to otherwise meaningless outcome.
So do I covet prayers for my son? You betcha!