Friday, May 23, 2014

The power of prayer

I was huffing and puffing and thought I would explode. The word anger hardly described the molten lava swirling inside of me.

This person had wronged me. Seriously double crossed me. I thought she was a friend but now realized she was a snake. My stomach turned as I visualized the word "betrayal" and started thinking of all the people who had hurt me the same way. 

My knee jerk reaction was to get even. Revenge would taste sweet, I told myself. But wisdom informed me better. It took a year to cool off. The lava eventually hardened but I was at risk of becoming a crust of a person. Bitterness has a way of swallowing you up whole.

Pray, he said gently. Just pray.

At first I wasn't sure what to say. Every fiber of my being wanted to simmer in my hatred. "How can I possibly wish good things for her?" I asked. "The worst part is that she didn't start out as an enemy. I thought we played on the same team." I guess I hated myself the most for trusting her.

But I pushed forward. I opened myself to the possibility that I could be bigger than what had happened. I prayed for healing and I prayed that God would break away my hardened shell. I prayed for clarity. I prayed for otherworldly strength. And then I did the unthinkable: I prayed for her.

No, I didn't pray that she would spill coffee on her silk blouse or that the heel of her 4-inch stilettos would slip on a banana peel. I prayed for her health. I prayed for her family. I prayed she would continue to be fruitful in her career. I prayed beautiful things like flowers and singing birds would make her happy. 

This happens every time I pray, especially when I'm in a not-so-great place. I start thinking about all the good things I admire about that person. I meditate on the ways he or she has blessed me, taught me and made me a better version of myself. And then an even crazier thing happens: I start thanking God for the bad experience that got me here in the first place. Yes, I thank him.

It's cliche but there's always a nugget of truth in a cliche. That which does not kill you only makes you stronger (OK, Nietzsche said it but you get my point). My trauma made me stronger. Most importantly it got me to pray, taught me to forgive and brought me closer to God.

"Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue," wrote the South African writer and pastor Andrew Murray. "God's voice in response to mine in its most essential part." 

The Virgin Mary in Prayer painted by Albrecht Durer (c. 1518).

Why prayer will help you live longer. (Huffington Post)