Tuesday, October 23, 2018

What is Appropriate Prayer?

For the past month, Milwaukee has been buzzing. Our local Major League team, the Brewers, was on a tear. They finished with the best record in the National League, made the playoffs for the first time in seven years, and won twelve in a row to win the NL Central title and sweep the first round of the playoffs. It has seemed like everyone was wearing Brewers gear and talking baseball in our area.

On Saturday, the Brewers hosted game 7 of the NL Championship against the LA Dodgers with a chance to go to the World Series for the first time since 1982 and the city was electric.

But they lost. No World Series. No more season. There was no joy in Mudville, for mighty Casey had struck out...

The next morning, during the late worship service at my church, the assisting minister added an impromptu petition to the prayers that was something like: "Lord, help us in our grief over our baseball team losing. We wanted to go to the World Series and it hurts. Help us get over it and look forward to next season."

In the moment, I didn't know exactly what to think about the prayer. I wondered if some would be offended by including something like a sports team in the prayers. Would some feel it wasn't appropriate for the prayers in church? Did I?

As I continued to think about it, I remembered that I myself often tell people there is no bad prayer. "Prayer," I say, "is just speaking honestly with God." I sometimes use the examples of Psalm 137 or Psalm 109, where the writers pray for God to bring suffering to their enemies. I also use them as examples of the truth that God is with us in times of pain and suffering. If those bitter songs are saved as examples of prayer in the Bible, we can be honest with our own pain, anger, or whatever we feel.

As I thought about it, I realized this prayer was speaking honestly with God. She was saying, "Sure, it's just a baseball team, but a lot of us here are hurting today. If you're with us in any suffering, please be with us in this time of pain." In a different situation, it might have been silly or frivolous, but on that morning, it was true and sincere. That, I believe is God's hope for our prayers, because when we are honest about ourselves, we can be more open to what God has to say to us.

May we all be reminded that there is no part of our lives that is beyond God and nothing that God doesn't want to hear from us. 

From the Gray,

Pastor Ari

“I’m-a say all the words inside my head.” -Imagine Dragons, “Believer”

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