Do you pray?
I do. A lot.
Let me be clear, too. I would never consider myself an astutely religious person. I am a Catholic in my faith. I spent a considerable number of years as an Altar boy in Fairmount, North Dakota helping to marry and bury countless numbers of souls.
I don’t go to the requisite number of masses that I know I am supposed to attend as a practicing Catholic. I could and should try harder – and I resolve to always do better.
All that being said, I pray. A lot.
It occurred to me recently after a particularly vexing day that I spend a lot of my prayer time asking for God’s intervention in my life. I don’t ask for things like winning the lottery. Or that my sports team win a game by making a last minute field goal, or a home run or shot into the net.
My prayers tend to be for things related to my own life. I pray for peace in the world. For my brothers and sisters and their family. I pray for God to watch over my children and my wife and others who are close to me.
Back in the day when I was flying all over the country I spent a lot of time praying that my plane wouldn’t crash. For years I would pray so fast and so hard on take-off that I found myself trying to count how many Hail Mary’s and Our Fathers I could fit in before the wheels went up on take-off.
It was a lot!
Funny, I don’t ever remember praying on landing. But, I did pray a lot when the plane bounced around in the air.
I pray for patience in my life. For perseverance. For understanding. I ask for wisdom – and I know many wish I would pray a lot more for more of that.
I sometimes wonder how God can keep track of my prayers. Then I think about the billions of souls on Earth who must also be praying for so many of the same things and I wonder how he can even manage all of that input.
I suspect God has infinite bandwidth to match his infinite wisdom.
I was moved to reflect on this and prayer the other day when I found myself thinking about my kids and wife all day long. I wondered what they were up to. How their day was going? Were they having a good day. Or was it a frustrating and perplexing day.
Anyone who has teenagers knows that it can be all of those things and above. It’s kind of like being an adult just with more acne and hormones raging all over the place.
But, what really made me reflect on when and how and why I pray was when both of my kids arrived at home and texted me to say they were safe and sound, nestled in the comfort of their warm house and doing their homework. And, when I knew my wife had arrived safely, as well.
Seemingly out of nowhere I simple say, “Thank you, God.”
I said a prayer of gratitude. It was nothing more than that.
“Thank you, God.”
And, it got to me to thinking about how often I thank God for simply the life I have and the people I have around me and for their safety, good health and that they are in my life at all.
I try to never let my kids or my wife out of the house without telling them I love them. I sometimes have to call them on the phone when I am away from home – or I will find myself forgetting to do that and when I get to work I will call quick and ask their Mom to put them on the phone.
It’s not a surprise that I get a grunt from the 15-year-old boy when I tell him this. And, the 13-year-old girl is still at a point where she is more than okay in saying it back to me.
But, it’s not about their reaction in return, it is about their understanding that there’s never a shortage of love in my heart for them every single minute of every single day.
We are told often to not wait to tell those we love that we love them. I do my best to make sure that I do that. With 8 brothers and sisters I would be worn out telling them that all the time given that some are minutes away and others are hours away. But, I figure that my prayers for them every day is the compromise I have reached that I find acceptable.
My Mom lives next door to me so I tell her that when I see her or in my emails. And, I know I should tell her it more, but I also know that she knows it – even when she annoys me. That I love her more than she annoys me is a good balance to have in life!
I find that the older I get the more I feel compelled to pray for those in my life, near and far, for whatever it is they may need when they need it.
I believe in God. I believe in miracles. I believe in divine intervention.
I don’t believe there is a quid pro quo between my prayers to God and the readily identifiable return in that investment.
I do believe God hears my prayers and acts on those prayers in ways that only he can understand relative to the results.
There is pain and suffering in the world. Around me. Far away from me. Sometimes too close to me for me to believe I can bear.
But, I have faith. I always have and I always will. I may not understand what it means at the moment of my suffering or that of those I know and live, but I know that there’s a reason for all things.
And, I believe I need to make sure I am creating the balance of praying for gratitude to God for any day in which I am still here with the breath in my body to simply say “Thank you, God.”