Have Faith: Say a little prayer

Whether you’re on the go or have plenty of time to kill, it’s fairly easy to lift a couple of prayers up.

"The Light of the World" —William Holman Hunt

I started a book of essays a long time ago titled “Praying for Go-Go Boots.” The essays sum up my prayer life as a series of desperate attempts to gain things — everything from my white patent leather boots in second grade to a kind and funny husband 15 years ago, to the ability to keep my mouth shut when my daughter asked for marital advice last month. 

I will literally pray about anything. Last week I wanted to make sure I kept a clear head on Wednesday, the newspaper’s production day, and the day the pages get shipped to the printer. Cooler heads need to prevail around here, especially that day of week, and I’ll admit I didn’t have high hopes. This particular prayer fell under the “praying in the car on the way to work” category. You may be familiar with this method. The wonderful thing is that I had a fantastic Wednesday. I mean fantastic. Some coworkers were aggravated — we had a questionable amount of copy for a limited amount of space, and some of our photos weren’t exactly stellar — yet I was happy as a clam, and came up with workarounds for just about every little problem that cropped up that day. No pun intended. “See,” I thought to myself, “this is what happens when you pray before you go into work. Why don’t you do this every single day?” Life would be so much easier if I did.

I’m not sure if it’s my hotline to God that’s helping me out, or if it’s my unflappable belief that when I sit God down to talk, he/she always listens. Nonbelievers might think I’m helping myself out psychologically by being convinced that God’s listening. Sort of like an “if you build it, they will come” mentality. Or the idea of the law of attraction that the book “The Secret” gives us … the power of positive thinking personified. I tend to think it’s my constant nagging at the Almighty. I know nagging works when I ask my husband to do the dishes. 

As you may have ascertained, my concept of prayer hasn’t evolved all that much since second grade. At the Catholic newspaper I worked for, we used to have a very large book that had a sketch of Jesus knocking on a door. It was implied that all you had to do was let him in; he’s been standing there at your door forever, just waiting for you to open it. I’m pretty sure we have a secret knock between us. Three longs and a short. 

This prayer life stuff can be as simple or as complex as we make it. We can join a group, develop a structured prayer practice, study religion seriously, read a few books by Thich Nhat Hanh or Richard Rohr, or sometimes just chat with God while we’re behind the wheel. It’s my firm belief that they all work. 

Sometimes God seems like a friend I’ve known since kindergarten, and sometimes he seems as elusive as my ability to sing “Hallelujah” like Jeff Buckley. No matter which way our relationship is going, I’m glad it’s still going.