As I was lying in bed listening to the winds of Ike howl around my house, I reflected on prayer. Most likely because I was doing a lot of it. You could clearly hear the big gusts of wind as they came around the house and bent the trees. At the sound of this wind, I could feel the anxiety well up in me and my stomach would get that feeling like coming down off a roller coaster…not a good one in my opinion. This happened every few minutes and even putting the headphones in to listen to the battery powered radio could not drown out the sound of the wind.
I was praying to God rather generically for “things” to be okay. But, as my children were not with me (they were at their father’s house) I also prayed for their well being; for my house; for my other family members in town. Now, prayer of this personal favor nature has never felt right to me. Who was I to ask for God to protect what was precious to me? Wasn’t everyone in Ike’s path that night making the same silent entreaty? Probably; I had no right to expect these favors and really no right to even ask it. I’m not of the belief that God personally intervenes to grant us our petty wants – because we don’t and can’t know God’s nature, we can’t assume what matters to us also matters to him.
So, what I did do in the early hours of that morning, when you realize that EVERYTHING is out of your control, is thank God. I thanked him for giving me the ability to be calm in the face of danger, for giving me the intellectual capacity to prepare and make sure my family and home were as safe as I could make them, for blessing me with so many wonderful things that I would do anything to not lose them, and for giving me the confidence to know that even if I did lose all of them all was not lost.
I was very fortunate in Ike, my home was not damaged and my family was safe. What more could I ask for? Electricity!… but that’s another story. By thanking rather than asking I was able to calm the waves of panic and accept that there was nothing I could do. Which oddly made me feel more in control – I was thinking in future terms, mentally planning and keeping my brain occupied not with fear but with the future, with a positive perspective.
I will never again pray the same way. We could all stand to be a little more thankful and a little less selfish.
A few days later (and still without electricity by the way)…
I’ve reflected on what I wrote here and wanted to add that this type of prayer applies to prayer for others. And it’s for the same reason, only God knows what’s best for those I’m praying for. My asking for a job to work out, a marriage to mend, etc. is what I think will make them happy. But may actually turn out to be the absolute wrong thing in the long run. So now the prayer is for them to use their God-given courage, intellect, kindness, and confidence to shape their lives for the positive.