Rule #4: Pray
“The wise man in the storm prays God not for safety from danger but for deliverance from fear.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I know at this point in your lives, young and sure of the certainties of the universe, when I talk about God and Prayer you look at me as if I am either naïve or stupid. You look at my belief in God as a belief in a magician, and a refusal to look behind the curtain to expose the trick.
I’ve often thought of how I could convince you of God’s existence and tie it to the science and philosophy that you have learned in high school and college. The challenge has been to be able to explain something that is felt more than it known, it exists in a way that is different and unique to everything else in the universe.
My conclusion has been to talk to you often about my faith, and my understanding of God and to pray that it will one day guide you when you need it most, to a closer relationship with God. I accept that I can not make my children believe in anything, and that the curse of the gift of having intelligent, well educated children is that they will challenge everything you believe and accept nothing as certain until they discover it themselves.
So I accept that God will come into your lives when you are ready, and that as long as you respect my right to believe differently, I can wait.
This week has been a very challenging week. Its one of those weeks that you will experience that drives you to your knees looking for hope and explanations.
When I got the call on Tuesday afternoon that my Dad had a stroke and was being transported by helicopter to Abington I was in sort of a state of shock. Although 81, my father has had a busier social calendar than all the Kardashians put together- dinners, plays and community actives are the norm for him. The thought of him being gravely ill just didn’t match up with my reality.
As the week progressed and I watched as he suffer the indignities of illness in the loss of speech, memory and function I struggled with the whys of the world.
I know that our bodies are fragile things, and that we all will fail the end. But to see him suffer through multiple seizures, riding the roller coaster of improvement and decline, has been difficult to understand.
I have had the blessings of a caring wife, loving children and supportive friends through this time. I have been given the gift of the strength of my sister and brother-in-law who have made this pain a shared one, and much less.
Prayer has become a central part of my coping mechanism for the week. My personal prayer and the strong positive energy of all our friends that have prayed for my Dad and our family have been felt. I truly believe that those prayers have helped us through the week.
In the process of prayer I have been given the gift of comfort from God. A comfort that comes from knowing that I am not praying for intervention to what will be, but an acceptance of what will be, and the courage to overcome fear.
Fear, the sense of being without hope and direction, is what I turn to God to help for the most. Help for myself, my family and in particular my Dad this week.
God is answering the prayers for my Dad by having his family near, his long time companion Carol at his side and many friends supporting him.
God is answering my prayers by having all the people in my life continue to be there – and has repeatedly shown me the way through the kindness of others. My prayers are being answered, even if not through recovery and intervention, but through hope and courage.
I ask you, my children, to draw from this experience and understand the power and purpose of prayer in your lives. The simple act of going to your knees and saying that you accept the things that you can not control of all things in life, and you thank God for his love and support. The recognition that you are not in control gives you comfort in what will be.
I know the cynicism of youth will make this hard to understand, but use difficult times like this do not to move away from God, but draw closer to him.
Abraham Lincoln said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go.”
I think about that quote often, because within the despair of hopelessness is the absolute clarity of God.
This is an important life rule, and one that I’m making a top 5. I do that with a lot of thought, hoping that the ranking itself will remind you to try prayer in your life.
So as take a moment when thinking of Grandpop today, and pray, if only for his sake, and thank God for his gift of this week to him and our family. I’m not asking for you to believe but to simply experience what prayer can be.
You are loved and prayer will help you remember that you are…