I believe in prayer. I believe that praying for others not only makes us more mindful of them, but of our own lives. I believe prayer also contributes to the collective good by helping us focus on the “big picture” of life. I believe praying for daily guidance shows respect for God and his power. I believe prayer shows God that we have priorities, and hopefully they are what they should be. I believe prayer is effective because I have seen the fulfillment of my own prayers and been the beneficiary of the prayers of others.
Today I feel compelled to ask you to pray for a local tragedy. But in return I want to tell you about my usual daily prayers. So here, in no particular order, are my top ten prayers:
1. Guidance. It seems that each day I encounter some situation for which I have not prepared. Didn’t study, didn’t take the test. Ironically this usually involves someone asking my advice about their life or family! Perhaps it’s my age that prompts them to think I have answers. So I pray for guidance, not only in meeting the challenges of my own life, but in giving advice to others.
2. My Family and friends. I pray for the health, safety, and peace of my family and friends. I don’t often pray for anyone’s happiness. Such an elusive, transient thing anyway. Peace of mind, peace of spirit, seems like a much more important gift. I mean, if I’m going to ask God for something, it might as well be the best.
3. My Children. I pray specifically for my children and whatever current challenge they are facing. We of a “certain age” can vividly remember how draining and depressing and discouraging some of those challenges can be, especially when there are little children in the house.
4. My students. I can’t begin to explain to you how many problems one class of twenty little children can represent. Once you start teaching a child, then his family and their families, and even their neighbors start appearing on your prayer list!
5. Community. I pray that the town I call home will survive the current economic problems and continue to exist as a place. I think that’s important to several generations of people. I also think that working together as a community and trying to preserve and improve things makes us better individuals.
6. Country. I have to admit that this is a difficult prayer because I usually just pray that our leaders don’t do anything too stupid. Not much of a prayer, but lately I’m sort of at a loss to think of anything better.
7. Thanksgiving. I have a daily list of things for which I am truly thankful. I have more than I ever dreamed of as a child. I have more than I deserve.
8. My Health. Yes, I pray specifically for my own health. I pray that I will continue to be healthy enough to live the life I love- teaching, gardening, writing. I think it would be selfish, and probably foolish, to pray for perfect health or a pain-free life.
9. My Husband. I pray for my husband’s health and safety. I also pray that he puts up with me for another thirty or forty years.
10. Tragedy. I pray for the families involved in whatever tragedy has transpired since I last slept. And you know as well as I do that there is at least one local tragedy to pray about each and every day. I can’t turn on the news in the morning without a sense of dread, but I do it anyway. Our latest is a bus accident that took place on Tuesday. One of the local (Rock Creek) buses was hit by a semi and several children were seriously injured. Please pray for everyone involved. This is a situation that will continue to affect people for years to come. There may be charges filed against the driver of the truck. There is a whole range of injuries. There will be emotional trauma for everyone who was in the accident, whether they were injured or not. There will be anxiety for all of the children riding buses this week. Please pray with me.