An honest prayer for our leaders should offer hope for humankind
The Rev. Torey Lightcap
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
There’s an old saying that if you don’t vote, you can’t complain. That is, if you don’t help shape the results, you can’t grouse over them. It feels good to take part in something even if it doesn’t quite turn out the way you had thought or hoped it would.
On Tuesday of this week I had the privilege of sitting with a number of really fine people around a kitchen table. We talked our way through some of the more salient moments of the inauguration of Barack Obama ” things he said or didn’t say, images that remained with us from the reporting, or just our personal reflections on the day as a whole.
The way the conversation worked out, it seemed imperative that we stop and pray for the whole thing, so before we got our coats we did just that. It didn’t take very long, but it was singularly powerful.
Have you ever done that ” just stopped and said a prayer for our leaders? It creates a certain galvanizing effect. It helps you to know, too, that there’s a corollary thought to the one cited above: If you’re a person of faith and you do vote, but you don’t pray, you still don’t get to complain!
All of which is true, as far as it goes. Yet there is another, deeper reality, which is that when you pray for someone, you’re less likely to complain to begin with.
When you truly pray for someone, you admit that in a very real sense, you and that person are one ” that your concerns are not all that different from his or her concerns; that in essence, what you ask for on behalf of another is worthy ” worthy of being asked, and worthy of being answered. In the presence of a common cause, prayer unites.
A prayer for the leaders of this nation to be gifted with wisdom that they exercise in the course of their lives and jobs is not a trivial thing. It represents the best of your intentions being poured out for the best of others.
On the other hand, there’s the prayer that goes something like this: “Dear God, would it kill you to bring me a bike?” or “Dear God, please smite that neighbor of mine who never curbs his dog” or “Dear God, please let Jay Cutler go at least 16-for-20 today and have great protection from the offensive line.” (This season’s prayer for the Broncos ” “Dear God!” ” came across as being a little more basic, didn’t it?)
Prayers of selfishness or gluttony are pretty easy to sniff out. They strike us in the belly as piggish, and they land on the ears as tinny, immature and churlish. I wonder if there’s a heavenly sort bin for such things. (I just wonder: I don’t pretend to know!)
But a prayer that’s whispered out of a simple desire for someone else to have better, do better, or know better … now, that’s something you can count on. Listening to the good people around me on Tuesday lift up the incoming and outgoing presidents and their families, I had a taste of that nebulous Hope we’ve heard so much about lately.
Hope, in this case, was partly borne out of a sense of listening to others offer themselves without reservation. For a brief and beautiful moment, it transcended the political ideology of winners and losers. It was an honestly wrought prayer of oneness not just for a few people, but for the future of all humankind, indeed all of creation, seen from the vantage of this moment in time.
They who walk the corridors of power and speak to and for the masses need our prayers, thoughts and good energies, and it should be the duty of every person of faith to hold them fast in that place. That doesn’t diminish your participating in the political process one iota; if anything, it should help.
At the very least, we’d have less to complain about.
The Rev. Torey Lightcap is priest-in-charge of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Glenwood Springs (www.saint-barnabas.info). Torey and his wife have two children and live in New Castle.
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