Praying for Strength, and Other Sure Things

IS G?D GRANTING FAVORS, OR am I just fooling my brain into higher functioning?

That’s the question I ask myself every time I pray for either greater strength (read: endurance) or greater understanding. That’s about all I ever pray for[1], and either way, those prayers always get answered (so far). But the question is also a loaded one: as a Religious Agnostic, I am somewhat prejudiced against the idea of the nameless, genderless Man Upstairs (if It is a man, and if It is upstairs) making dreams come true for me when they have so tragically gone wrong for others (e.g., and canonically, the Six Million, but also any refugees/terminal patients/soldiers/etc anywhere/anywhen). That’s also an argument against Divine Intervention: that people who have “miraculously” survived illness and disaster must necessarily be more holy than those who didn’t. I don’t think that’s fair, or accurate.

But praying for something that expands you in some way — helping you cope with the otherwise uncopeable, say, or somehow augmenting qualities you already possess but haven’t yet manifested to your liking — can’t help but be effective. We are all waiting to become our best selves; and any little excuse-practice (prayer, meditation, focused breathing, focused intention) can push us that much closer to that goal. It doesn’t really matter what approach we use, only that we do it sincerely and with enthusiasm. And isn’t that also a good rule for living?

(1) A word about prayer in general: Someone once told me there are three types of prayer: “Please,” “Thank You,” and “Wow.” I have here discoursed ‘pon occasional use of the first type, but the second and third are also used by me on a daily basis in order to feel that connection with the omniconnected. Gratitude and awe are a way of life, and if you go all your life without praying for something, you can get pretty far by praying about something (Something?) else.

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