|From the Pastor...
The Power of Prayer
|Just four years ago, the world seemed to stand still as
the Twin Towers in New York City were leveled to the ground.
We had yet to realize how much of life had been lost, and what
was about to change, forever. Hurricane Katrina has come and
gone well over two weeks ago, and the extent of the true
devastation is just beginning to be seen. As eyes have been
glued to television news feeds and newspaper reports keeping
us all up to date on the rescue and recovery efforts, none too few
of us ask what we can do. We have been told that right now what
is needed most, is for us who are far outside the area fully
affected by the storm, to send cash, and as much as we can.
This will allow agencies like Catholic Charities or the Red Cross
purchase supplies as they are needed and as they become
available. Some from around the nation have, and will, open
their homes, churches and agencies their facilities, and states
their resources, to offer temporary shelter and a modicum of
“normalcy” for families with nothing left.
I believe that everyone of us can do our part in bringing comfort and hope to these people who we may never meet, nor come to know even their names. I find that there is such a sense of helplessness that comes to any of us when we see things to be as bad as they are and have no idea what we can do to help. Sure we can send money, a good thing to do indeed, but is that really enough for some of us who feel the pull to become personally involved. I think that all of us can only begin to imagine what it must be like for the tens of thousands who have been pushed out of their homes, jobs, communities and “normal” lives, not to mention the yet untold family members who have perished. What must it be like to have absolutely nothing left except whatever clothes were on your back, and what ever items needed for survival that you are able to carry?
It is precisely a time like this that I am all too aware of how little we trust in the power of prayer. Our idea of “doing” something useful is almost always defined in terms of physical needs. Prayer is too static and too removed, we think, and in the long run, is it not too easy to promise prayers to another person, and never even fulfill the promise? Prayer is such an immensely powerful weapon in our arsenal of tools to fight against darkness and despair. Through prayer, we connect with the God of Life, the One who has created all things and all peoples, and cares deeply for each one of us. In making such a connection, we ask God to hear us and answer us, but also we can find God directing us in thought and practice to become aware of so much that we normally miss.
Prayer is never an empty action or exercise. Prayer is not the mere multiplication of words to make us feel better that we at least tried something, anything. Prayer is the opening of ourselves to the very source of our life, and in the practice of prayer, we can come to know real power to change our lives and that of others. Prayer is the complete self-emptying of our minds, hearts and souls through the honest offering of everything that is within us: need, anger, joy, hurt, thankfulness, sorrow, elation, etc. Prayer is the waiting in patience for God to speak to our hearts, and in our careful listening, we come to understand the very things that take place in our lives, positive or negative, in a whole new way. In short, prayer is the giving over of every one of our concerns to a God who can and will do something with them, and receiving a new perspective on what “normal” is supposed to be, in God's eyes, not our own.
Katrina calls us all to do something for those who are most in need, and even as we send money and goods to the degree that we can, the best “something” of all just might be our constant prayer. Pray for the victims, both the dead and those alive, as well as their families, for help, for hope. Pray for the workers who will spend themselves completely until the job is done, for strength and patient endurance. Pray for our government, regardless of personal feelings you may have toward party or persons in charge, for compassion and the proper sense of justice and aid. Pray for your own family, for an appreciation of what they have and enjoy, for what we take for granted. And pray for yourself, for a new understanding of this life and its place in the grand scheme of eternity, for a sense of what truly matters, for surrendering your own will to gain the will of God. There is plenty we can do in the coming days and months, and in the end, hopefully, it will not only be the lives of those directly affected by the storm that will be changed forever.