May our lives follow where our prayers first lead.
– Paul Alcorn
I have been supported by the thoughts and prayers of others.
Many years ago, when I was going through a difficult work situation, the prayers of friends helped me maintain some semblance of balance when all around me was a craziness I could not manage. And, when my Dad was dying, the thoughts and prayers of others helped me walk through those days with both my Dad and my Mom. In both of those situations, those who kept me in their prayers followed up with me to see how I was doing and picked up details and responsibilities so I could pay attention to what was important.
I pray each day. I pray many times each day. And, more times than I can count or remember I have prayed with and for others. But, for me prayer and praying is not some magical formula which somehow manipulates the Divine, but as I said in a prayer yesterday morning…
And so we pause long enough to pray, O God…
Stopping long enough to pay attention
To the state of our own hearts and minds and souls.
To pay attention to our sisters and brothers;
To the world entrusted now to our care and keeping.
To pay attention to the sadness and sorrow and despair which robs so many of the life you intend for us and for all.
And, to pay attention to the gratitude and joy and love which makes life rich and deep and full.
Which brings me to the thoughts and prayers made/offered in response to tragedies such as the shooting a week ago in Las Vegas. Responding to a number of reflections on politicians and pundits offering their thoughts and prayers, a colleague, who is a hospital chaplain, said he no longer uses those words because they have been so often misused and abused.
Prayer without some subsequent action on our part are just words.
Empty and meaningless.
If you are going to pray, you must also commit to moving our feet.
If not, stop it with the thoughts and prayers.