Thoughts and Prayers
“...prayer has a way of changing us too, if we let it, if we start to think about what we're praying for...”
Doug Brouwer (“Hey, I'm sending you my thoughts and prayers!” dougsblog.org)
Doug Brouwer is an America pastor of an international church in a small town twelve miles form Zurich, Switzerland. His words about prayer struck a cord with me this morning, mostly because of Facebook. People are regularly asking for prayers for various things, and the response they receive from friends is usually, “Sending you thoughts and prayers.” My favorite is, “Holding you in the light.” None of us quite knows what those two things mean, but we say them anyway—mostly to let the person know they've been heard, that we are indeed thinking about them for that moment we're reading their prayer request.
Brouwer maintains that we should ask for what we want when we go to God in prayer. That we should ask, and not leave anything out. He uses Psalms as an example of good prayers, and they are beautiful and poetic songs of praise and lament. I confess that I get somewhat tripped up on the “smite my enemies, trample them under foot,” parts into which Psalms frequently devolve—even though that's sometimes what I'd like to ask for.
There are times when we don't know what to pray for. Sometimes, things are just heavy on our hearts, or we don't know what's in the best interest of the person, or even ourselves, in a given situation. Sometimes, we just think, “God! God! Do something!” Or at least, I do. With limited wisdom, and limited insight, and all the other human limitations, we can't always see what the bigger picture holds. Perhaps something is being worked out in the life of that person that we don't know about, and wouldn't understand if we did. There are times when we simply ask God to do what's best. It may sound like a cop-out, but we humans rarely have all the information needed to produce an informed and specific prayer. Is it enough to simply ask for care; to ask for God to hold, and comfort?
My go-to person, when it comes to asking for specific things, is the Virgin of Guadeloupe. Don't ask me why—I'm not Catholic. I simply feel a closeness to her and know that the part of Divine Spirit that she represents, cares about the likes of us. I light her candle—sometimes more than one—and ask her to intervene, to bring about whatever is needed, to watch over and bless whatever, or whoever, is filling up my heart with concern. She never lets me down. Life doesn't always go the way I think it should, but I accept her grace.
However you pray is good enough. The fact that you recognize a power greater than yourself, and you accept that you don't always have the answers is right attitude. Acknowledging the presence of infinite compassion, and asking for guidance from that source is sufficient. Next time you send your thoughts and prayers, make it real.
In the Spirit,