Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Power of Prayer

Or How I Asked God for a Sign and He Sent Me the Pope...


First off, before I even get into this post, I'd like to say that even if you're not a Christian, I hope you'll read this. By most people's accounts, I'm not what you'd call a great Christian example, and am probably not "qualified" to write a whole lot on the subject of Christianity. I don't go to church every Sunday. My mother was raised in a beat-your-children Catholic household, and had zero interest in doing anything that her parents did...so she told my sister and me that we could figure out what we wanted to do when we were adults. This resulted in a ME who is still, at 42 yo, trying to find a church that feels like home. But although CHURCH wasn't a big part-of my life as a kid, prayer always was. 

For as long as I can remember, I have always prayed. I have very early memories, ones that I know come before the age of 5, of praying with my older sister before bed at night. I believe that my mother told my sister that she was supposed to say them with me, and at some point said sister decided she was done reciting things with my pipsqueak self, because the prayer I said all the way through high school went something like this: 
God I love you very much, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, plus Mommy, Daddy, Sissy and Me, and Charlie, Shady, Springfield, Garfield, Bupo, Killroy, etc....
This prayer tells you a few of things. One is that I clearly got mixed up on the classic bedtime prayer, and made it something completely my own. Then we have the fact that we owned a lot of animals, and named them after very 80's things because I added every pet we ever owned in the lineup after my family. The above are two cats, one dog, and a few birds...but the list went on a lot farther, I just didn't want to bore all of you! And last we have the knowledge that I came up with this extremely early in my life because I have zero recollection of ever referring to my older sister as "Sissy"...and yet I called her that in my prayers until I was married.


As a child I wholeheartedly believed in prayer, and that stayed with me into adulthood. Even when I haven't attended a church regularly, I have always read the Bible and prayed. I taught my children how to pray, although they initially said the prayers that they learned in the British schools they attended as little ones. I have had some incredibly devout friends over the years, and inevitably we would have a conversation that went something like this: insert defensive Christina "Just because I didn't grow up going to church every Sunday doesn't mean I'm not a Christian and I don't believe in God. I read the Bible. I pray. And anytime I have ever prayed and prayed, and asked God to help me out with something, it's worked out." Normally this would end with said friend telling me to chill out.

I write all of this now to say that I'm a bit flummoxed by the hatred towards prayer at the moment. Now, I'm not talking about politicians not working on a problem and simply praying a problem away. And I'm not about to start talking politics on this blog because that is SO not my thing. I'm talking about venom being thrown at someone who says they will pray for a person who is going through an issue or a crisis.

For example, Director Kevin Smith recently had a massive heart attack and Chris Pratt wrote on Twitter how big of a fan he was, and how he would be praying for Kevin because he believes in the healing power of prayer. You would think that he'd just outed himself as chester the molester for all the abuse that was hurled at him. The comments went from vile to things like Doctors and Nurses heal, prayer doesn't, etc...or just plain outrage.

Of course Doctors and Nurses heal, but Chris Pratt is neither of those, and what can he do for Kevin Smith?? I mean, you can send a card or something else...but what could praying for someone possibly hurt? And why would it be a bad thing? What you're effectively doing...even if you remove God from the equation...is putting out good energy and sending love to another person. If you keep God in there, you're asking for help from a higher power. Would I want no Doctor and just some guy to pray over my broken and bloody body in an accident? Um...no. But would I want everyone to pray for me while a trained Doctor was working on me in the event of said accident? Heck yeah! Because I believe that there is something to it.

I'm sure that part of my faith in prayer is because I feel like I've seen examples of God answering them before. Now, he may not answer them the way you think they should be answered...but in my experience, he is in fact listening. I thought I'd share with you the biggest and most personal example of this in my life.


A little over ten years ago, I was in a very bad place emotionally and about as low as a person could get. I'm not going to go into the details, but believe me when I say that it was rough and I don't even like thinking about it a whole lot. I was at a fork in the road, and was fretting over a decision that I'd made...and incredibly unsure over whether it was the right one. All of this coincided with a last hoorah trip to Rome with family before we moved back to the States from Europe.

After arriving in Rome, and dropping our things off at our hotel, we immediately headed towards the Vatican to show our visiting family a few places with the expectation of returning the next day for the full tour. My husband's brother and his wife are Catholic, and decided to walk in a small chapel outside St. Peter's Basilica to pray. I immediately felt the urge to go inside and do the same. So I walked into this dark and reverent space, and quietly moved to a spot in the back pew away from everyone else, and I prayed. Surrounded by people praying in many different languages, from all over the world, I prayed like I'd never prayed before. I told God that I didn't know what to do...that I needed help...that I was lost...and I needed a sign. I begged for a sign that I'd made the right decision, that everything was going to be okay, that I was going to be okay. Then I wiped the tears from my eyes, and left the building.

The next day my husband and I were given one of the most glorious gifts you can ever give parents...the gift of sleeping in. Our visiting family had taken the kids to the Vatican museum, and we were meeting them for lunch. We woke up and got ready at a leisurely pace, and then left to meander out way to our meeting spot. We remarked on how quiet Rome appeared...hardly any traffic or people walking around. It was bordering on eerie. And then as we got closer to the Vatican we could hear something...the sound of someone speaking...so we started walking a bit faster. And that's when we stumbled on the Pope. That's right...the Pope was speaking in front of St. Peter's Basilica...and the place was FILLED with people!! And we had NO IDEA this was happening. Right as we walked up, and I pulled my video camera out, he started speaking in English...and he blessed everyone who was there, and their families. It was impossible, regardless of your faith, not to feel the love when standing there among all of those believers. It was palpable. We stood there basically filled with shock and awe.

Why yes, that is the Pope behind me...
And that's when I realized that I'd been given my sign...about the biggest sign that God could possibly give out...The Pope. He knew I needed something large for me to see it, and know that it was from him...and you can't get much bigger than that. Not to mention the feeling of standing there in the middle of that many people praying simultaneously. St. Peter's square holds 141,000 people. That's a lot of people praying...and anyone who has stood with that many people praying at the same time would tell you that it is a tangible thing you can physically feel...no matter your faith.

The funny aside to the story is that the very Catholic family that was visiting never got to see the Pope. They were in the uncrowded museums with our children, completely unaware of what was going on outside...and so angry afterwards that they wouldn't even watch my video footage! Ahhh...back in the day before we all had cell phones to text and say "Get out here, you're missing the Pope!!".

So...flawed Christian that I am...I believe in prayer. If you don't, that's okay...but it's not hurting anyone for ME to pray. And if I hear that something is going on in your life...a health issue, a problem with your child, someone in your family is sick, etc...and I care for you, chances are you WILL be in my prayers. Because sometimes there's nothing else I can do. And if there is a God (which I believe there is), then maybe praying will help...and if me and all the other believers are wrong, then did it really hurt to have us thinking about you, sending our love, and hoping that things will get better for you?? Because for nonbelievers it's just semantics right? Is there really a difference between thinking to yourself "wow, I feel bad that suchandsuch's husband was just diagnosed with cancer. I hope they're okay." and "God, please watch over suchandsuch. Her husband was just diagnosed with cancer. Please let her feel your love, and let your healing touch reach her husband."??

I'd also like to remind everyone, because I think people forget at times, that a lot of people believe and practice prayer...not just Christians. Eastern religions use meditation as a form of prayer. We all know Muslims pray. But even followers of the Pagan or Wiccan faiths use prayer. There may be different words for it, and a slightly different way of going about it, but it's still prayer folks.

 Dawn Welburn - Reawaken Through Touch FB Page
A healing prayer written by my big sis

As for me...Catholic or not...when you ask for a sign and are given the Pope...you continue to pray. You pray your booty off. Because from where I'm sitting, God was right. I made the right decision, and everything DID work out. It doesn't always work out the way you think it's going to, but it usually does.

So maybe cut us pray-ers a little slack. I'd say the majority of us are just asking for a little extra help to go along with the love and whatever other action we're using in any given situation. I think this is on my mind more right now because I have a few family members and friends that I love dearly that are going through medical issues, and all I can do at the moment is pray. Pray that they will be healed. Pray that they will have strength as they go through their ordeal. Pray for their family members as they fret and caretake. Pray for the Doctors that treat them. Pray for Peace if things don't go the way that we want them to. Because sometimes that's all you can do. And I pray that God will ease my worried mind at that realization.

4 comments:

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    1. Thank you so much Jen, and thank you for always having my back and being one of my biggest cheerleaders. I love you, lady!!

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  2. I love this, Christina! It is exactly what I believe in, too...wrapping someone in prayer is sending a hit of energy across the ether for them. And I have seen it work! Love to you for writing this.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, it means a lot to me.

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