And Jabes called upon the God of Israel, saying: If blessing thou wilt bless me, and wilt enlarge my borders, and thy hand be with me, and thou save me from being oppressed by evil. And God granted him the things he prayed for.
1 chronicles, 4:1
With growing enthusiasm I read Elizabeth Gilberts book Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. In fact I regularly had to put it down to think and wonder about everything I was reading.
One of the things that touched me was the part about praying and the requests and questions you can ask God.
'I explained to Ida my personal opinions about prayer. Namely, that I don't feel comfortable petitioning for specific things from God, because that feels to me like a kind of weakness of faith. I don't like asking, 'Will you change this or that thing in my life that's difficult for me?' Because - who knows? - God might want me to be facing that particular challenge for a reason. Instead, I feel more comfortable praying for the courage to face whatever occurs in my life with equanimity, no matter how things turn out.'
Iva listened politely, then asked, 'Where'd you get that stupid idea?'
'What do you mean?'
'Where did you get the idea that you aren't allowed to petition the universe with prayer? You are part of this universe, Liz. You're a consituent - you have every entitlement to participate in the actions of the universe, and let your feelings be known. So put your opinion out there. Make your case. Believe me - it will at least be taken in to consideration.'
After this conversation Elizabeth goes on to write God a request asking him to help her husband agree to the divorce. Soon after her phone rings: it's her lawyer telling her the divorce is finalized. Coincidink? Or God?
The idea of being free to ask God anything feels liberating. Like Elizabeth I thought the only thing you can ask is the wisdom to accept life as it presents itself to you. Not that you could actually request certain things! I feel like a kid in the candy store: 'What do I want to ask God?'
What to ask?
The first thing that pops into my mind is to ask for my children's happiness, and asking for good health for all of us.
Then I'm silent. It's not as easy as I thought to know what to ask for.
Asking for problems?
In Buddhism problems are thought to be essential for a fullfilling life of personal growth, so they actually have a prayer asking for problems. But though I do appreciate the growth that comes from facing problems, to pray for them? I think not. I'm sure they'll present themselves without God's help.
Maybe I should pray to God for the knowledge what to pray for?
What would you pray for?