Sometimes it seems like our world is spinning out of control — ours or anyone else’s.
It’s like getting an alert on my computer: An error occurred while displaying the previous error. Huh? What am I supposed to do about that?
Often, the answer is a reboot, which clears the cache. When I think of prayer, I think of it as clearing the cache, getting rid of all the processes that are slowing us down.
The National Day of Prayer reminds us that it’s good to clear the cache. As well, it allows us to reload all the original software – the stuff our Creator gave us, the stuff that makes us human. Sometimes a National Day of Prayer may be just what the doctor ordered!
Most people think of prayer as a distinctively religious practice. I’m not so sure about that. I’d like to open that door — the one that says you’re only praying if you explicitly say, “Our Heavenly Father” — just a bit farther.
I think we all pray far more than we realize. When we see a helicopter landing on the hospital helipad, even if unconsciously, we breathe a wish for the occupants to be well.
I think that’s a prayer.
When we hear about a co-worker recovering from a difficult diagnosis, the twinge of our heart is a wish for a miraculous turnaround.
That’s a prayer.
When we learn that a peer is going through a divorce, we think, how hard that must be. To my way of thinking, that’s an empathic prayer.
In fact, these are all prayers. Maybe they don’t take the prescribed format we’ve assigned to prayer. But, still, I believe it’s a prayer. Indeed, I’ll bet you already do this many times a day. Which leads me to this thought: Any wish for goodness is a prayer. At least, it can be if you say it is. You don’t need anyone to define prayer for you. Define it for yourself!
Indeed, I think your good wishes are exactly what we need. Whether you do this in a style that’s religious or not, your wish for a better world is a much-needed prayer.
Sometimes, I’ll visit a patient. They will request prayer. I try to craft and say a prayer that is their own, based on what they’ve told me. Sometimes, they — without any prompting — start saying a prayer for me. The last time this happened, I was so overcome that all could do was to thank and hug the patient. I left in tears, so deeply touched.
The world isn’t waiting on the prayers of a Chaplain, Priest, Yogi or any other minister-type. It is, however, begging for your good thoughts and wishes. Maybe it’s time to reboot and clear the cache?
My good wishes (prayers) for you today and every day.
About the author
Mike Davis is the chaplain at the Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital in Dallas. He received his Master of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary and his Clinical Pastoral Education at Baylor Dallas.