By Jane Lee Wolfe
What most people call praying is petitioning, asking God to repair something that is horrid, troublesome, tension-building, anxiety making in our lives. Fix it! Fix Joey’s cancer. Fix people who shoot up schools. Fix drug disease, addiction, my money situation, my relationships, my job, the environment -whatever. Fix it!
Since our request for “fixing it” rarely delivers our asked-for results, no wonder we lose faith in prayer. God is Mr. Fix It. But Mr. Fix it didn’t fix it. Enough already. Though next time something needs fixing, we often try asking if only to help off-load our anxiety. We no longer expect results from our asking. And there are other forms of stress therapy we can engage in.
For many, meditation is a far more real form of prayer than petition.
For many, meditation is a far more real form of prayer than petition. When we meditate, we are quiet. We listen. We offer our fears, our confidences. We lay ourselves open for health and healing. We are grateful. We meditate alone or with others. We are seeking wholeness—within simplicity, within chaos, within in-between. We are not asking, “fix it.” This is prayer, a fine form of prayer.
Sometimes, individual prayer needs a live body beside it. That live body need not know what is going on in order to be praying, too. Somehow that physical presence is calming. Walk into a religious building, and if there is someone there praying, it seems better lots of times. That’s why some people find it easier to pray at touristy religious sites because generally someone else is praying there, too. The anonymity of such a community can be inspiring. And the prayers are different, no matter the state of personal distress. God is not Mr. Fix It. God is the all knowing lover of us all. God hears us. We hear God.
Much can be learned about prayer that is helpful for human beings. Take gratitude; it is a fine form of prayer and easier on the heart and soul than petitions. Or honoring blessings during the day. One of the great blessings I had recently was seeing a man leave a restaurant for what I thought was a smoke break but was instead a yo-yo break! He was good, too! As soon as he finished his yo-yoing he came in and finished his meal. What a blessing of cheer! Of just being joyful about little things.
A perfect religious house to me would be one in which there was always someone praying. The doors would always be open; someone would always be inside offering prayers, receiving gladness. The visitor could come and go, come and stay and pray, have a little chat, or whatever.
A perfect religious house to me would be one in which there was always someone praying.
Truth is, religion will not reform without prayer as its base. Prayer is how we integrate and live within the family of God. It’s a great family, long history, and can heal and elevate much of life. Family members don’t have to know what’s going on with each other any more than they do now. They simply need to know they can be healthy and whole and thereby part of God’s transforming power.