Praying for Miracles Rev Dr Durrell Watkins (Nov 15th, 2015) Today, I strongly feel the need to begin to spend a few moments in prayer. The defeat of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, terrorist attacks in Lebanon and France, blaming refugees for the very sort of violence they have uprooted their lives to escape, personal […]
Praying for Miracles
Rev Dr Durrell Watkins (Nov 15th, 2015)
Today, I strongly feel the need to begin to spend a few moments in prayer.
The defeat of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance,
terrorist attacks in Lebanon and France,
blaming refugees for the very sort of violence they have uprooted their lives to escape,
personal stories of pain, illness, injuries, and hardships…these all have weighed heavy on my heart in recent days.
So please indulge me as I offer these familiar prayers adapted from my former Anglican background. I offer them today for our world. After each prayer, I invite you to affirm that it is also your prayer by saying “amen.”
Let us pray for those we are tempted to call ENEMIES:
O God who loves us all, we were commanded by Jesus to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge…Amen.
And let us pray for THE OPPRESSED:
Look with pity, O God, upon the people or this world who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions…Help us to eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this good planet. Amen.
Thank you for praying with me.
I want to now say a few words about prayer. We wish to be people of positive action; otherwise, prayer is merely perfunctory at best, or a superstitious and desperate appeal to magic at worst. But prayer that motivates reasonable, optimistic, healing action is the stuff of miracles. In other words, the prayer of faith is powerful, but the faith that can move a mountain is the faith that will grab a pick and shovel and start chipping away at it.
I had a mentor who believed in spiritual healing, as do I. She would tell me, “Say a prayer and take a pill; if one doesn’t work the other will.” Healing was the result, she believed, of prayer guided positive action.
I’m reminded in my own life of how prayer leads to action, and the combination of prayer and action leads to results.
I have to have a medical procedure on Wednesday. I don’t mind confessing to you that I was a little sad about it for a couple of days. You see, I’ve been having some difficulty and I have been praying for healing. Of course, what I meant was “magically make this difficulty go away so I don’t have to take responsibility for it.” But, that is not the prayer of faith. That is the prayer of desperation, and that isn’t likely to bring powerful results.
After several weeks I finally made an appointment to see someone last Friday. The examination led to a referral to a specialist which led to an out-patient procedure being scheduled for Wednesday: My 4th medical procedure this year (each for a different condition).
But wait. I prayed for healing! Oh yeah, and finally, by cooperating with my own prayer, by grabbing a pick and a shovel (as it were), I can now start chipping away at this mountain.
I didn’t get magic, but I went from wondering why my prayer didn’t work to seeing how it had worked perfectly; I had a change of perception which means I’ve experienced a miracle. I hope for the condition to be corrected, of course, but before that happens I’ve already received the miracle, the ability to perceive my situation differently.
Side note: the receptionist at the doctor’s office asked what my profession was. I said, “clergy.” She lit up. She said, “can you give blessings?” I said, “not give, but I sell them dirt cheap.” Not really, I said that I had been known to offer the occasional blessing. She said she was having a rough day and asked for a blessing. So, even though public displays of piety outside of the house of worship do not appeal to me, I took her hand and offered the simply priestly blessing from Numbers chapter 6: May God bless you and keep you. May God’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May God look upon you kindly and grant you peace.
She immediately ran to a coworker to announce that she had received a blessing and just when she needed it. I was there for my own medical issue, but was asked to share something simple…a moment of compassion, a good wish, a kind word. It cost me nothing but mattered a great deal to her. No matter what you are going through, you can give someone something that will make their day better, and when you realize you’ve done that, you’ve also made your own day better.
If you are experiencing a challenge in life…my prayer for you is that you perceive opportunities for peace and joy and fulfillment that you’ve not perceived before. I hope with you for the situation to turn out the way you’d like, but more importantly, I affirm that a miraculous change of perception is available to you. You may have a condition, a challenge, or a struggle, but I declare today that it does not have you. Whatever your situation, I know that your life can be filled with love, happiness, and peace. I declare it, I demand it, I give thanks for it and so it is.
If we can see something differently, we can experience it differently. If we change how we view a situation, we change the power the situation has over us.
The Psalmist affirms in our second reading today, “I am always mindful of the divine Presence in my life, and therefore, I shall not be shaken.”
Do we view the world as coming apart? Or do we take an historical view, and realize that because of television, radio, and social media we are just more informed about the problems of the world than ever before, but overall, empirically, things are much better than they once were. We are right to notice the problems and respond to them, but let us not forget to see the progress that has been made as well.
Helen Keller said, “The world is full of suffering, but the world is also full of the overcoming of it.” If we not only notice only the troubles but also the possibility of overcoming the troubles, we are miracle workers, and prayer is what helps us develop that miraculous perspective.
And so we pray, not for magic, but for courage and wisdom to do what’s helpful and healing, in our lives and in the world.
Kevin Ross, the Senior Minister of the Unity Church of Sacramento posted yesterday on Facebook:
“Isn’t it time for people of faith to…get down to the business of what our faiths tell us to do? It’s time to wage peace in Jesus’ name. It’s time to wage love in the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. It’s time to wage kindness in the way of the Buddha! It’s time to wage compassion by the authority of Father Abraham [and Mother Sarah]. It’s time to wage forgiveness in the name of Bahá’u'lláh. It’s time to wage understanding by the light of Oshun! It’s time to build bridges in the name of Krishna!…Let us rise to the crown of divinity that towers above our heads and let us touch the hearts of humanity that’s within our reach. Or let’s abandon this faith walk all together and unmask ourselves as the collaborators with calamity; for evil persists when we do nothing.”
Do we dare stand for peace when war is so popular, when it has become second nature to respond to violence with violence? Do we dare to be those peacemakers Jesus called “blessed”?
In 1776 Thomas Paine said, “These are the times that try [our] souls.” It’s still true. And this is the trial, the challenge…to believe in healing even when it is delayed, to believe in peace when our very DNA seems to cry out for vengeance, to believe in justice even when it has been denied. Prayer helps us to become what we believe, or what at our best we wish to believe. Prayer helps us live our values. Prayer helps us get up after we’ve been knocked down. Prayer reminds us that new beginnings, second chances, and brighter tomorrows are possible.
Prayer is what will empower us to choose hope over hatred,
Purpose over pugnacity,
and Determination over despair..
It’s not magic, but oh it can be miraculous!
I can’t promise that everything will be soda pop and skittles for you, or for me, but I believe whole heartedly that come what may we can go to peace instead of to pieces.
I believe there is peace beyond pain, hope beyond horror, and deliverance beyond despair.
I believe we can always see and seize possibilities that we overlooked before.
I believe we can change how we view a situation and therefore, we can change how we experience a situation.
In other words, I believe in miracles.
And this is the good news! Amen.
© Durrell Watkins 2015
I believe in miracles!
I pray for a miracle frame of mind.
Let there be miracles in my life and in the world.