* "Chew on This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder" is a book of inspirational short stories by Gary Brock and Kelly Tuck, and is available for purchase here!
*Words of wisdom for inspirational thought are at the end of the story!
My good friend, Will, sent an email with an attachment of an op-ed, or original essay, he recently came across in some of his daily perusing of major newspapers. In the body of his email, he asked for my thoughts on the subject matter of the op-ed. Once I read the title of the op-ed, “The Power of Prayer,” I smiled and shook my head. I knew where this was headed.
Will could be somewhat cynical, particularly when it came to mainstream religion. In fact, I’d seen the man just about roll his eyes out of his head on more than one occasion when someone interjected anything about God into a conversation. He was always waiting for the other shoe to drop whenever the “God card” was played. He once told me, “Get ready! They’re playing God with one hand and going for your wallet with the other hand.”
I, on the other hand, considered myself quite spiritual albeit not overly religious. Will and I made an interesting pair, particularly when we got together for coffee. I’d actually noticed several people at adjoining tables listening in on our conversations on more than one occasion.I always hoped it was because our conversations were thought provoking and not because we were being too loud or overbearing.
The op-ed piece Will forwarded to me outlined the critique by a renowned pastor of a recent series of tweets by a “famous” individual addressing the “famous” tweeter’s feelings on the publicized prayers of a hostage during a recent highly publicized hostage situation. The tweeter stated, "Prayer does nothing, and if prayer worked then terrible things would not happen every single day." The tweeter went on to share, "It gives people’s egos some kind of boost to believe they have an inside track with Almighty God and through their prayers are able to influence God. Get real, if prayer works that means God plays favorites…I don’t think so."
After reprinting the series of tweets in his op-ed, the pastor took exception to the tweeter’s critique of another’s pleas for help and sense of helplessness. The pastor explained prayer was not just a petition to remove trials, but also a path of getting through them. I thought the pastor made some great points shedding light on the fact prayer serves as a coping mechanism as well as an individual renewal of resolve through faith. He wrote, "Prayer and its inherent power have been espoused throughout recorded history. Prayer exemplifies a human’s understanding of a far greater power as well as an understanding of a human’s vulnerability and weakness."
Later that week, Will and I met for breakfast. Before I could even take a sip of my coffee, Will jumped right in, “So what do you think about the op-ed? Where are you on prayer?” Although my mouth opened to reply, I didn’t have a chance to utter a sound before he interjected, “You know, I’m a realist and prayer just doesn’t seem to solve any problems. At the end of the day, you’ve got to have faith in yourself, not in some being that may or may not exist to magically solve your problems for you. If it is going to be, it is up to me.” He shrugged. “But, maybe I need to work on my own faith.”
“As usual,” I began thoughtfully, “I’m somewhere in between. I believe that encouragement and hope are two things we can always offer ourselves and others. You know, hope is the essential message from God to humankind as reflected in the accounts of the life of Jesus. Prayer is not a magic pill or cure all. It is, however, a form of encouragement and hope we can offer for others as well as ourselves in all aspects of life. Whenever you have hope you give the mind the ability to create, to cope, to endure. If you look back at the op-ed, you will see the preacher stressed prayer is a tool humans use when searching for strength, courage, or the will to carry forward when faced with challenging situations or events beyond their control. Prayer doesn’t change situations, but more . . . .
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PRAYER CHANGES THE "PRAYER"
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*Chew On This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder is available for purchase here!