Tuesday, August 10, 2004

A Really Good Prayer

Here is a prayer that never fails. It is excellent for those times when someone is crunching popcorn in your ear while you are watching "The Passion", when the choir won't stop practicing even though they did not reserve the room that you need to use, or when you find yourself in the situation I did yesterday ... talking to a very angry man who treats you contemptuously as a simple fool. In other words, it is perfect for helping deal with the irritations and stress of daily life.
Lord, have mercy on me and bless them.
This simple prayer is proof that you do not have to "feel" the prayer. You simply must be willing to say it, however grudgingly. Considering the circumstances that lead up to it, I always am upset and irritated whenever I say it. Do I actually want those annoying people to be blessed? Hmph, I should say not! (At least I don't feel as if I do, although I am going to the effort of saying the prayer...) In fact, yesterday I was shaking with anger when I suddenly realized that prayer was running over and over in my head. But it is the classic case of "ask and you shall receive." Whenever I say it, I never fail to be reminded of my many imperfections, my pride, and that we are all sinners together. Often that is just what I need to calm down and let my anger go.

In fact, yesterday I was given much more than that. I actually was able to walk away without getting sucked into further argument. I let him "win." So he thinks I'm an idiot? OK, fine. Believe me, that's not my way. No matter how hard I have fought with myself, I never have been able to do that before. It was all grace, an amazing triumph over my worst instincts, an answer to prayer for which I am very grateful.

I realized that angry man actually was the answer to a prayer for humility. That's another prayer that usually is fairly grudging. I know I need it. I know its good for me. But I know it hurts. Why is it that those prayers always are answered so quickly? Maybe its because that is the path that takes us closest to where we should be ... death to self, doing everything for the glory of God.

I was left with peace in my heart, an ability to pray for the man to truly be blessed, and an appreciation of humility (again). This morning's prayer for humility was much more sincere. What a great ending to that encounter. Thanks be to God for that simple prayer and for His quick answers.

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