A Lesson in Praying

A Lesson in Praying November 19, 2011

Upon my waking this was the dream:

We were in a room with a youth group of some sort. High school, college. Maybe 50-75 in numbers. One gal was speaking. It was not someone I recognized.

She had an eraser in her hand and she was speaking about the power of prayer. To prove her point about how effective prayer can be, she let go of the eraser and it shot like a bullet toward the opposing wall. Scared the dickens out of everyone in that room, me included. Mostly because I had only halfway been paying attention, which is how I spend too much of my life, only halfway paying attention to it.

But once that eraser went speeding like a bullet across the room, that got my attention.

Try it, she said. You try it. Hold out your hands and pray for the eraser to come to you. Everyone ready?

We were. All throughout the room people were praying, hands held out, ready to receive something miraculous from God. She held up the eraser again and as we prayed, she released it. We held our breath and waited to see who was God’s chosen in that moment. Each one hoping, of course, that it would be them.

The eraser fell to the floor.  Dropped just like that. It didn’t speed off toward anyone.

Ahhh, we sighed, dropping our hands and thinking, why of course. See how God does me? Always doing the miraculous for others and nothing for me. I looked at the faces around the room. All were crestfallen. So many unanswered prayers. So much disappointment. So much discouragement.

Then it came to me.

A lesson in praying.

What do you expect me to do? There you all sit, hands outstretched, each one’s prayer opposing another’s. Gimme. Gimme. Gimme. You’re a mother, how would you choose? Which child’s prayer would you honor if you knew honoring that prayer would slight your other children? Be angry all you like but the truth is I cannot honor prayers that are selfish in nature and designed to exalt one of you over another.

I love each one too much.

That’s why I instructed you to pray in concert with each other. To come together as two or more and seek the same thing.

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

You might reconsider those Gimme prayers.

And then I woke.



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  • Tracy

    Boy, this is great. Thank you.

  • Patty Hicks

    Excellent post! I will be sharing with our pastor who is a man of prayer and with the ladies at church.

  • Dang this is good.

  • AF Roger

    In her excellent book, The Shelter of Each Other–Rebuilding Our Families, Dr. Mary Pipher came up with many down-to-earth ways of looking at things. A hallmark or her work, I think. When the wolf is at the door (outside), it’s much simpler, she said. We know what and where the threat is. But when the wolf is inside… That’s a different matter.

    Our mastery of energy and food production have allowed us, alt least many of us, to divert much attention from daily hunting and gathering and formation of successful skills in the next generation so that they would be able to feed and shelter us as aging members of the tribe. Endless avenues for new predations have opened up in our culture, often shielded by fame and power. Compartmentalization. Rationalization. Denial. These things still exist and seem to have grown exponentially. It’s a lot easier, and less threatening, to focus preaching and prayer on the “wolves” outside the door than to admit that they are inside. People in recovery programs don’t fight addictions and achieve accountability in isolation as lone wolves. And we don’t confront or address them well in the corporate worship of corporate churches. But Jesus walks in the gatherings of the two’s and three’s and four’s, the dozen-sized groups who can maintain a sense of trust and common humility. Accountability can only begin with those who know the wolf has gotten inside. They are already past that point. Most of our public posturing isn’t there yet.

    • Debbie

      I was up through the dark hours myself last night face to face with one wolf inside, I would never have really ‘seen’ it had my spirit not been confronted with the suicide of a person I met on a ‘church recovery’ board on Facebook. What happened next never ceases to amaze me…as soon as I ‘accepted’ I ‘know’ the wolf and agreed with the revelation of myself I’d been shown He also held me tight and stroked my hair and reminded me we – we – had a party to get ready for. We! You, me, Him and our wolves.

  • Sharon O

    Good words today, I needed this.


    Karen, this is a lesson I am trying to teach people about prayer that most of us in our humanity must learn over and over. Thank you for the creative way you handled it.

    • Steve:

      I appreciate the comments but I want to clarify that this wasn’t an exercise in creative writing. I actually woke up and wrote down the dream exactly as it had come to me, as best I remembered it.

      I don’t know what others will take from it, if anything, but I thought it powerful enough that I ought to share it.