I Pray Because…
Note: The writer of this blog article is Rev. Mary Wrye. She the Chaplain at Methodist Hospital a 200+ bed hospital facility in Henderson KY. She also is a member, bible study leader and past deacon chairman of Community Baptist Church. This article appeared in the Fall 2009 edition of the Methodist Hospital magazine “Outreach”.
Prayer… it’s the simplest and yet most complicated thing we can do. One definition is “the act of addressing supplication to a divinity, especially to the true God; the offering of adoration, confession, supplication, and thanksgiving to the Supreme Being”. That sounds a little complicated and formal. Do I have to have the right words to say? Am I good enough to talk to God? Maybe I need to go to church for a few weeks before I talk to God. Maybe I need to clean up my act first. Maybe I need to be different – before I pray.
Prayer is just talking to God. No fancy words, no special place, no preparation – just telling God what is going on with you. The simple prayer is one in which you tell God what’s on your mind and in your heart. It can be while you are in a quiet spot all by yourself, centered and focused. Or it can by while you are driving to work, or taking a shower, or folding towels. You can pray by yourself or with a buddy, or in a group.
To be honest, there have been times I have prayed “thy will be done” only to tag on “but if you want my opinion…”. Sometimes my prayers are similar to those of the great prizefighter Sugar Ray Leonard “Before I fight, I always pray that no one gets hurt.” While I may think they don’t make sense, God is able to make sense of it all by listening to my heart with his heart. Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation, once said “Grant that I may not pray alone with the mouth; help me that I may pray from the depths of my heart.”
The movie Shadowlands (Anthony Hopkins as C. S. Lewis, and Debra Winger as Joy Gresham) is based on the life of C. S. Lewis, Christian apologist and writer of Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and The Chronicles of Narnia among others. In a scene in this very powerful movie Lewis, known by his friends as Jack, talked of his prayer life, especially during the illness of his beloved wife Joy. His friend Harry said “Christopher can scoff, Jack, but I know how hard you’ve been praying, and now God is answering your prayers.” Lewis answers “That’s not why I pray, Harry. I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God, it changes me.”
Our need to pray is our recognition that, contrary to popular belief, we are not in control of everything. Prayer comes out of our need to connect with God. We have all wanted to do something about a situation that seemed out of our realm of power to effect. Richard Foster, in his book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, says, “If we truly love people, we will desire for them far more than it is within our power to give them, and this will lead us to prayer.”
At Methodist Hospital prayer is an important part of our day. We begin our day with a prayer spoken over the PA system. We have a beautiful Chapel that is a quiet, welcoming place for anyone who needs to spend time in prayer. We have designated each Tuesday as a day of prayer. Staff and volunteers are encouraged to take time out of their day at some point to offer a prayer whether they are at work or not: for the hospital leadership, physicians, and staff; for our patients and their families; for a world in need.
As we enter this time of the year, when we are most aware of our blessings and God’s love for us, may our prayers be filled with gratitude for all that we have. May we remember those who bless us each day, and may we never take for granted the hope that is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord.
May we, like C. S. Lewis, pray because we can’t help ourselves, because the need flows out of us all the time. When we do God will be there.