Wednesday, July 18, 2012

You Didn't Pray for Me

Writing has slowed down for me somewhat because I'm more accepting of my unanswered questions and less certain that I'll arrive at answers. I don't spend as much time reading and pondering the nature of God. I've spent a fair amount of time recently learning the new skill of couponing. I've spent numerous hours on blogs dedicated to couponing and bargain shopping and I've made some significant headway.

However, I do need to give attention to a spiritual matter that directly affects our sons. And the matter is prayer. This is something I have largely given up on because I don't really believe that whoever or whatever I pray to is going to answer or react in any way. I don't see prayer changing anything by affecting God's behavior. Now that is not to say that I don't believe prayer can have a significant affect on the petitioner. In fact, I believe that prayer does affect our attitudes and heart when we pray. This has renewed my interest in pursuing meditation more diligently, as I think the same effects are likely achieved without the requisite belief in a God who is listening to our every prayer and responding.

Out of force of habit, I suppose, we pray as a family before meals when we eat together. One night, a couple of weeks ago, my husband led a prayer before dinner, a fairly quick and perfunctory one. My youngest son was sick with bronchitis. After the prayer, my son immediately said, "You didn't pray for me to get better." He wanted this prayer, so my husband prayed for his health. It meant a great deal to both my boys, who actually sat very still and quietly during the second prayer, as opposed to trying to sneak a bite or glancing at the other brother to catch him in the act of eating.  I felt guilt over this omission and wondered if the boys thought we weren't concerned enough about our son's health.

In the Christian community, prayer is a primary way of communicating concern for another. And of course, if you believe prayer can change the actions of God, it is a way to improve the outcomes for others. My husband and I are raising our children in this culture, so it's no surprise they are developing this understanding of prayer.  I do believe it's a valuable practice, whether or not anyone hears the prayer, but it's just so hard for me to do. I feel a need to come to some sort of way of approaching this practice, especially in the context of my family. And given that I still feel a bit on the fence about my beliefs as does my husband, it's a challenge to know what to teach our children. So, that's my current conundrum. Any thoughts?