Things to Pray for…or not 4

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has been in the news a lot recently because he prays before games.  This got me to thinking seriously about something that I’ve been mulling for a while now – what should one pray for? What do I pray for? Why does it bother me when I see what to me are frivolous (or offensive) prayers? 

Here goes a few of the things I’ve mulled about prayer.

Mull # 1 – Faith and the slow cooker
The most recent occasion for me to mull about prayer was when a friend was telling me about finding a slow cooker at Morgie’s* for $14.99.  She had seen a slow cooker she wanted at Targets but it was too expensive.  She prayed about it.  Then one day “faith told me to go to Morgie’s” and there it was.

Hmmm.  Since she goes to Morgie’s on a regular basis, I don’t believe it was faith that led her to the slow cooker.  I think she just wanted to shop…yet again.

Mull #2-20 – Prayer circles before performances

There are any number of crude and rude entertainers who pray with their crew before performing.  As if God is really interested in helping someone do the best violent, sexist, and/or vulgar performance possible.  I’m not even sure that God is interested in the most sublime performances.  I sorta think you’re given the talent, you nurture the gift, and you perform.  Although I must admit that sometimes the stars align and music can feel transcendant.

Mull # 21+++ – Prayers to hit the lottery

Hitting the lottery is a want not a need and nobody deserves to hit it more than anyone else.  (Including me!)

Mull # 100 – Prayers to win a football (or any other) game

Doesn’t God have more important things to do than to help anyone win a game?  A game!  I don’t even think God cares football (or hockey or basketball or figure skating or any of our human distractions).

I figure God has any number of true prayers to answer and big picture items to ponder – like whether it’s time to be done with this planet and humans in general.

To me it makes sense to: thank God and recognize the blessings already present in your life and then, perhaps, to pray for:

  • Strength to get through the challenges you are facing.

  • Resources to help you meet your needs.

  • Prayers for healing, management of pain or ability to cope with illness, pain, etc.

  • Peace.

  • Companionship/love (and not ignoring this blessing when it doesn’t come packaged the way you thought it should be).

Growing up in a traditional baptist church in St. Louis, I remember hearing Reverend Smith preaching that a “prayer prayed is a prayer answered.”

Mull # 101-1000 – If my prayer didn’t get answered:

  • Did I not pray hard enough? 

  • Was I not specific enough? 

  • Was I not deserving enough? 

  • Was someone more deserving than me? 

  • Was it just not my turn? 

  • Was it that I needed to recognize the fact that my needs have been met and even a few of my wants and maybe that was all to be had? 

  • Was it that I needed to make the one step so God could make two? 

  • Was it that God had given me what I needed to go forth and didn’t need to be bothered with small things? 

Faith is such a personal thing.  I am a believer.  (I recognize that a number of people I know who have fabulous lives don’t believe at all.  There are also people I know who are unfailingly good people and don’t believe at all!)

So I guess I won’t be hitting the lottery or getting the specific goodies I want because these are not things I will pray for.

Afterthought:  One of the most profound prayers ever written is the lyrics of Precious Lord  I’ve had this spiritual in my head, specifically the version sung by “The Struggling Seven” a men’s group that used to sing this song “on request” in the Sunday evening service at the church I grew up in – Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church.

Precious Lord

Lyrcis by Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey (1899-1993)

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on,
Let me stand
I’m tired, I am weak I am worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When my way grows drear precious Lord linger near
When my life is almost gone
Hear my cry,
Hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When the darkness appears and the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand
Guide my feet,
Hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on,
Let me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

*Morgan Memorial (Goodwill Industries)

About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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4 thoughts on “Things to Pray for…or not

  • LeeAnn

    I’m having a really hard time with this Tebow thing. Someone on the radio recently referred to it as his brand. I have a hard time with the idea that a quick, kneeling in prayer (whether or not I think a football game is something to bring to the Almighty aside) as a brand. I think it’s pretty offensive and profanes the sacred.

  • Candelaria

    I hear you!  I remember hearing it referred to as “his brand” as well.  I don’t know if that comes from him or from his team or from external sources but it doesn’t sit well.  Good to hear from you and thanks so much for commenting.