Thursday, January 24, 2008
Yammering with God
I'm headed for the Midwest once again. My lovely mother, who just turned 87 and who cares for my father who is bedridden and immobile, is sick herself and in the hospital. She'll need some help when she gets out, so off I go. I'll try to keep up with everything while I'm there, which I was able to do last time I had to stay there. We'll be fine with your extra prayers. Which brings me to this question.
Why do we pray? For the living, specifically. I understand why we pray for the dead in purgatory.
When I think about praying for my self, it seems very selfish. Even praying for others, for example, praying for better health for someone who's sick, seems like a lack of faith. Shouldn't I just pray for God's will and give prayers of Thanksgiving for good stuff that happens? Also, should I really believe that God was going to let someone die of cancer until people prayed for that person. Did God change his mind? What if people don't have anyone to pray for them?
I actually do believe in the power of prayer, I'm just not sure how, or even if I should, direct it.
You have to pray for yourself. It's not selfish. Don't you need God's help? Even Oprah and Dr. Phil understand that you can't help anybody, even souls in Purgatory, if you are a big mess yourself. Just ask that Ted Haggard fellow.
Anyhow, you're already missing the key element about prayer (as with so many other things): it's not about you. It's about God. Then it's about God and you and what the two of you are up to together. Prayer comes from God, not the other way around.
Remember in the Old Testament how God is always talking to Abraham? They have pretty important things to say to each other. They have to come to some understandings. That's why when God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Abraham grabs a knife and heads for the hills. That, and the fact that animal sacrifice was a normal thing. God was just asking for a better gift today.
Which, by the way, is just another reason I don't think animals have immortal souls and go to heaven. Not to harp on this, but if animals have immortal souls and go to heaven, then all those doves and lambs were murdered at God's request.
God never asks for murder. He stopped Abraham.
Prayer is about you being on the same page with God, not about you asking God for things that make you happy, including the health of your loved ones. Not that you shouldn't talk to God about that. Does God cure people? Yes. Does he cure everyone? No.
God never cures cleft palates, for example. Only surgery will fix that. He also seems to have no interest in growing back limbs or making Little People taller. Other than those things, He has pulled off some doozies. People living with axes in their heads (only in the deep South), a girl who lost half her brain and is just fine, and you may have heard about His latest accomplishment, when that guy survived a 47 story fall. Most people don't survive a three story fall. I'm sure that guy was praying on the way down.
So was his brother, no doubt, who also fell but did not survive. Let's hope he was wearing his scapular.
Why did God do that? It's a Sacred Mystery. (That's Catholic talk for 'let it go'.)
I think you are correct, however, that all we're ever really asking for is that God's Will be done and for the strength and wisdom not to be angry and bitter when God's Will is done and we pretty much hate it. Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead everyone was crying and Jesus was crying and people were saying, "Gee, this guy helps blind people and cures lepers. Why didn't he just stop Lazarus from dying in the first place?
Why indeed? When He goes out to raise Lazarus, Jesus prays, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me." That's all.
"I thank Thee."
So, you're on the right track here.
And quickly, someone asked if they should have St. Christina as their confirmation name. Which St. Christina? This one? or This one?