Prayer lessons for a hard day

I so want things to be different today. I want to KNOW when the pandemic will lift. I want to let my children play with their friends. I want them to go back to school. I bargain a little with God. Or at least, I hope for very specific outcomes. I set milestones, like, if we’re back to normal by the Fourth of July we can salvage summer and it will be okay.

I pray for my very social son to be able to make peace with his isolation. I’m putting it on him to ease my anxiety and sense of overwhelm. I’m praying for my daughter to be able to handle her brother’s energy better, to let it roll off her. I am praying for them to change so I can be okay.

I appreciate this letter from Father Clay, suggesting a less prescriptive way to pray. It reminds me that I can’t control other people, but I can recognize my own feelings and pray for clarity about how to move forward. And pray for clarity about the best ways to help my kids. Because if today was hard for me, I can’t bear to think about how hard it was for them.

Surrendering Prayer

I think of the children who go to bed hungry every night. I think of their mothers and fathers whose own hunger pains are increased by the pain of not being able to feed their children.

I hope that the disruption of my world will increase my compassion for the rest of the world.

I pray about this. I’ll tell you how I pray. The way you do it may be quite different and that is okay. I remain aware of what I want changed, and at the same time, I mostly don’t ask God to change it. I give myself, those close to me, those who have asked me to pray for them, and everyone in the world to the love that is God.

My surrender to the Love is not to tell Love what to do but to surrender to whatever Love is doing in the whole mess.

It is my belief that when I surrender (and anyone else surrenders), Love can work through me (us) more effectively. That is very hard for me, but in my better moments, I can do it. I think that Thy kingdom come, thy will be done” in Jesus’ prayer is saying just that. Sometimes, though, when I am very weighed down, all I can say is HELP! That is okay too.

I think surrendering prayer also calls us to works of charity to help those in need and to works for justice that change the systems of our society that cause or perpetuate the injustice that is done to so many in our world. These systems are present, from our families to international organizations and everything in between.

Peace is the fruit of justice. Force (even when necessary) is only a limited and temporary solution. Only justice will save our world.

In prayer, we are to be as gentle as doves. In justice, we must be wise as serpents.

Smile, God Loves You.
Father Clay

Excerpted from the essay “Surrendering Prayer” in Surrounded by Love, (c) 2005

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