What is the purpose of prayer? One of my pastors, Jill Russell, said in a sermon, “We have asked and it has not been given. We have looked and have not found; we have knocked and the door was locked tight. We’ve prayed for healing for people who die. We’ve prayed for peace in a world that continues to be at war. We’ve asked and God has not given. Clearly prayer does not work in precisely that way: prayer in equals blessing out. So what is prayer for? Then she makes the point that: “Prayer is our way of connecting with God; so, that we can be empowered by God.”
Here is an example from my life:
My friend Pat had been through two years of chemo for colon cancer. She was feeling optimistic. The tests were looking good and then one day she called me, and said, “Can you come right over. I’ve had some terrible news.” I prayed one of writer Ann Lamott’s most sincere and reverent prayer: “Dear God: Help! Help! Help!” Dear God: Help! Help! Help! I don’t know what to say or do.
As I said earlier, “Prayer is a way of connecting with God so that we can be empowered by God.”
God answered my cry for help. God empowered me by bringing into my mind what I say over and over on Wisdom of the Wounded and in our book, The Compassionate Congregation, “Be there and listen. You can’t fix Pat’s problem, but you can be there and listen. Just be quiet, Karen, and listen.”
That is what I did. I listened. I cried with her. We hugged. Three hours later, as I drove home, I said another one of Ann Lamott’s favorite prayers, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you God.”