Faith Works 8-6-16
Beyond the campaigns and debates
Honestly, I just don't have time to be angry.
I try not to be worried, because time spent worrying seems almost as wasted as time spent being angry. What does that mean, anyhow? Yelling at the TV (or your spouse, who already agrees with you anyhow) or sitting imagining a grim and unpleasant future? What does being angry mean, unless there's some action along with it?
Ditto worrying, which we all do, but isn't really a pastime. You can let your head get into a state of worry, which colors your choices and actions, ditto anger, and there's the issue at hand: is being in a place of worry or anger in general helping you make better choices, use your time better, or get things done?
On the flip side, if you have financial problems, you can sit and daydream over what you'd do if you won a $400 million lottery drawing, and that's got a certain satisfaction to itself, I suppose, but what does it actually get you *doing* other than motivating you to buy lottery tickets when you get up and get going?
So when I pick up on the implication that prayer isn't actually accomplishing anything, that calling people of faith to prayer isn't a responsible role for a leader, I think "it's sure better than exhorting folks to get upset, agitated, furious about matters, and leaving them there."
In general I'm a big fan for reason and reflection, and prayer helps me get there and stay there when it becomes time to go to work. Prayer connects me to others who are seeking a deeper, wider contact to those who are engaged on an issue, many of whom – most of whom – I will never meet and probably never even know about.
Prayer is a way for God to speak to me; like the woman I love, if I just keep talking and yelling at the TV and shouting imprecations at the ceiling, I can't hear her. Sometimes, you need to shut your mouth in order to know what to say, let alone what to do. God's leadings, nudges, call them what you will, may not be clear telegraphic instructions as often as we claim to want . . . but keep in mind when the voice of the Divine comes to even the most godly of people, we're often not willing to follow those previously-hoped-for instructions. Moses wasn't. Even Jesus asked questions.
But it's in prayer that we can reach some clarity, or at least draw on a strength that you can call inner, or some of us might say is a strength that comes from beyond, but at any rate it comes when we ask for it more often than it shows up unrequested.
I get lots of questions about politics these days. And opportunities to tell people what my pick or where my guidance would go.
This campaign has only affirmed my understanding that the best political counsel I can offer is: pray. Pray for others, pray for those who wish you harm, pray for those who oppose you, pray for those who really, really, really tick you off. Pray for wisdom and strength, pray for hope and a vision of a better future, and pray that you will soon be able to (as Pope Francis recently said) get off the sofa and go out to find where God is already at work in our world, and join in the joyful efforts to transform and redeem this broken creation.
And if prayer just doesn't feel right for you (yet); go take a walk. Find a piece of nature, or look for its growth in the built-up setting where you find yourself, and admire the vigor of life in this second half of summer. Watch the birds overhead, and even give thanks for the bugs and bees and spiders at their work. Get out of your head, and open yourself to the possibility of goodness around you . . . and in you.
It may yet turn out to be a prayer, who knows? Anyhow, we all will need some prayer of one sort or another to get through the next twelve weeks.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; he has political opinions, too many of them. Tell him yours at email@example.com or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.