If for every well-intended prayer uttered in hopes of making the world a better place there was instead a good deed accomplished, the world might look as though those prayers had been answered.
David G. McAfee
I just finished reading Anne Lamott’s book titled Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. It was beautiful. Anne has a unique way of understanding and elaborating on religious doubt. I could see myself in many of the pages, including the prayer in the following excerpt.
My belief is that when you’re telling the truth, you’re close to God. If you say to God, “I am exhausted and depressed beyond words, and I don’t like You at all right now, and I recoil from most people who believe in You,” that might be the most honest thing you’ve ever said. If you told me you had said to God, “It is all hopeless, and I don’t have a clue if You exist, but I could use a hand,” it would almost bring tears to my eyes, tears of pride in you, for the courage it takes to get real-really real. It would make me want to sit next to you at the dinner table.
I like the idea of being completely honest with God. I tend to completely shut Him/Her out of the equation when I am feeling low spiritually. This has actually been the case for quite some time now. I also completely identify with the idea of recoiling from most people who believe in God. Even so, I still pray. Often in the manner Anne descibes. Short and to the point.
If You are up there, please help this person get better.
If You exist, thanks for my home, my partner, my comfort.
Wow. You really outdid Yourself with these beautiful flowers. I’m in awe!
I’m never sure if anyone is actually listening, but I do it anyway. Since reading this book, I intend to do it more, and in a much more honest manner. If God exists, He/She already knows my thoughts, so there is no point trying to conceal them.
Anne sums up her book and my feelings perfectly with a quote from Matisse:
I don’t know whether I believe in God or not. I think, really, I’m some sort of Buddhist. But the essential thing is to put oneself in a frame of mind which is close to that of prayer.
Special thanks to We Are Fambly for bringing this book to my attention.
I used to dream of being a disc jockey. I have always had such a love affair with music that I figured the perfect job would be choosing and spinning tracks for other people’s enjoyment. During my clubbing days, I would envy the guy or girl who selected the songs that got people moving on the dance floor. That was many years ago and although I’m not playing records to get people dancing, I am being blessed with the opportunity to move people through the medium of music.
We recently started having a mid-week prayer service at our church – something I suggested and was put in charge of coordinating. Each week, another church member and I put our heads together and come up with a short service that reflects a particular theme (praying for our church, praying for the sick, praising God, etc). She then selects an inspirational story to share with the group and I select two songs.
Since our regular pianist can’t attend on Wednesday evenings, we play professionally recorded tracks over the sound system. Honey graciously “spins the tracks” from the sound booth, which allows me to remain at the front with the group. We have listened to a wide range of musicians – from acappella to southern gospel to soul – a nontraditional mix that allows us to step outside of what we’re used to hearing in the sanctuary.
Choosing the songs for this gathering isn’t always easy. In fact, there have been a few times that I have been terribly stressed as I’ve tried to find a song that properly reflects the subject matter of the service. During those times, I have simply prayed for guidance and sat back in amazement as the perfect tune would practically fall into my lap.
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. There are weeks when those in attendance are singing along, swaying back and forth in joy, or silently weeping. Young or old, rich or poor, they are living evidence of music’s universal appeal.
So, each week I get to live out a slightly altered version of my dream – one that is much more Jesus-centered and spirit-filled. And I am blessed beyond measure.