Tag Archive | "when does God answer prayers"

Pray for Us Sinners

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Kneeling in church before an altar, placing a yarmulke on our heads in humility to the Lord, or making a small offering in a temple, most of us — with the exception of confirmed atheists — respect the power of prayer.  Supplicating to our Gods, we pray to attain or sustain the things most central to our lives: our jobs, our health, our safety, and that of our loved ones.  With so much on the line, we pray in a mindful and structured manner that lends weight to our requests.

But what of those small, almost guilty prayers that seep our consciousness and float out psychically to The Creator?  Do they carry as much weight?

I was taught not to pray for frivolous or selfish things (i.e., a winning lottery ticket) when I was a child in Catholic school.   The inference was that God would be angered, and an angry God does not answer prayers.  Therefore, as an adult, I had to wonder why one devout man of my acquaintance always — and I do mean always — managed to snag a parking spot on the crowded streets of New York City, each and every time he prayed for one.  Does God grant small, selfish prayers because He/She is beneficent, or does He/She grant them to silence our petty, pesky requests?  Or … does God do it because we amuse Him/Her?

I don’t know the answer, but I tried this same trick myself one desperate Christmas Eve in the city, with a car full of relatives and dinner reservations burning away.  As the family wheedled me to put the car into a lot and pay the fee (an impossibility, as all the lots in the area were full), I snapped loudly, “Jesus, can you hear me?  Show these non-believers that you still work miracles by giving me a parking spot on the street right now!”  Lo and behold — and not to make a pun, but as God is my witness — the moment those words had cleared my lips, a car just ahead eased out of its spot and I eased right in!

Explain, then, when I prayed one night to wake up twenty pounds thinner, the p.j.’s did not fall off my newly emaciated frame in the morning.

Or why, when I had a hankering for a piece of jewelry well out of my means, I woke up one Saturday with a prayer in my heart, determined to buy it.  Like the desperate guy in the old Springsteen song “going down to where the sands turn into gold,” I headed straight for Atlantic City, and I am no gambler.  At roulette, in just a few hours, I’d won enough to not only buy the necklace but a matching pair of earrings!

Explain, then, when I prayed for some scaffolding or at the very least, a large brick, to fall upon the head of someone I know who lives to torture others, nothing toppled from the sky in a city known for its cascading scaffolds, bricks, and oh yes, pigeon “blessings from above.”

The loss of those twenty pounds would have made me a happier person.  I would have spread my joy to others, and this would have been a blessing; hardly selfish.  Right?  The loss of the beast disguised as a human would have been an undisputed blessing, spreading joy to three generations of an entire clan.

Did I not pray hard enough?   To paraphrase Mick Jagger, “Was I rough enough?  Was I tough enough?”  Does God take vacations at the Jersey shore along with the rest of us, or are my heartfelt pleas just snooze fests to Him/Her?   Or … does God answer prayers the way that lottery tickets are drawn: at random? 

It can’t be random; it just can’t, and I can cite chapter and verse as to why it can’t.  One chapter involves one of my two beloved kitties.  Every night, I’d pray that God watch over them: God, St. Francis of Assisi, and every relative who has passed on.  Very early one morning, with a loud crash, my playful youngest kitty knocked a large framed print off the wall of the second level of my home.  Frantically, I searched for the glass and found it in a most illogical spot … placed in an eerily deliberate manner, as if by human hands, against the wall of my tiled foyer.  Assuming that miniscule chips had scattered on the floor to harm my little cat, I ran my hands carefully over the four edges of the glass.  I had to repeat that act twice more, for the glass was completely and inexplicably intact.

A mathematician could calculate the odds of the glass sailing down one full flight to land unbroken against a wall and a very hard floor.  And as astronomical as the odds must be, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that this little miracle had nothing to do with math and everything to do with Divine or perhaps angelic intervention.  

So the granting of prayers can’t be random.

I’d still love to lose those twenty pounds.  I’d hold a party if that brick ever conks that monster on the head and sends him to his Maker.  These are just two of a plethora of small prayers I’d like to see answered.  There must be a formula here that escapes me.  I pray that I learn it in my next life!

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