On a Wing and a Prayer

I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t really like praying; it’s something I struggle with all the time. Well, I should say public prayer is a problem; as long as it’s personal, just between me and God, I’m okay. But, if I’m called on to pray in public, I lock up and stand around looking stupid while odd sounds come out of my mouth. I think we all struggle with prayer on some level.  Some people seem to have lost their understanding of the concept and tend to view God as a genie and prayer is like rubbing the lamp and asking for your three wishes. Intercessory prayer is only one way of talking to God and not the one that should be our main focus. Have you ever known someone who only called you when they wanted something, where it was like you didn’t exist unless you could do something for them? That’s a lot like the way we treat God when we only pray to ask for things. Fortunately for us, God tends to give what we need instead of what we ask for.  In his book Why, Adam Hamilton relates a poem he attributes to Admiral Chester Nimitz. In researching, I found it came from an anonymous Confederate soldier. Whoever said it, this poem is a most excellent summation of this phenomenon:

Poem of an Unknown Confederate Soldier:

 I asked God for strength that I might achieve.

I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked for health that I might do greater things.

 I was given infirmity that I might do better things.

I asked for riches that I might be happy.

I was given poverty that I might be wise.

 I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.

I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.

 I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.

 I was given life that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.

Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.

I am, among all men, most richly blessed.