I just received a text from a friend requesting that I pray for someone. I do not know this person in need of my prayers, and it didn’t look like a group text that was erroneously sent to me, either. Also, I do not know why this person is in need of my prayers, only that they are.
One would think that this would be a strange or rare occurrence for me, but the truth is it is not. I receive requests for prayers all the time, and my response is usually one of two things – “I’m on it,” or “Done.”
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to prayer lately, and how it has changed for me over the years. I am especially pondering the topic on this Rosh Hashanah or Jewish New Year.
People the world over will be asking for forgiveness, mercy, and to be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year. Many will be atoning for “sins,” both known and unknown to them.
Me, I have mixed feelings about this, not because I don’t want forgiveness, mercy, and another year of life, but because I think asking for those things alone is coming from a place of fear and powerlessness and absolves us of our own responsibility in having those things.
My prayers are no longer that of a child, begging for a present. They are that of an adult, looking at the world and knowing that it cannot be anything that I am not willing to be in essence. So while it’s great to seek forgiveness, I seek to be forgiving. And for as much as I want mercy, I pray to be merciful.
We are co-creators, inextricably linked to one another and to our Creator. So knowing that, it is impossible for me not to pray for the stranger, or the ones I seemingly despise or don’t agree with on, well, anything.
I think we are met at the level of our expectancy and our willingness to become more. This world desperately needs us to become more, more of our best selves. More courageous. More brave. More peaceful. More loving. More grateful. More engaged.
The world needs us to do the right, and just, and merciful, loving thing – without an opinion poll.
It needs us to be the friend we’d want to have, the leader we desire, instead of merely following whomever. The world needs us to stop falling into line and start forging a new and better path.
We will rise or perish as one. And that’s why, when someone asks me, I say a prayer. Because that stranger is the person someone loves most in this world. That stranger is a reflection of my own need and despair. That stranger is the least among us or the messiah. That stranger is you. And that stranger is me. And we will rise or fall together.
So in this New Year, I ask to be mercy, to be forgiveness, to be love, and to be peace. I ask for all of us to be inscribed in the Book of Life, but maybe more importantly, I ask for whatever days we are given to be of abiding value, and to leave a legacy of what good is possible.
I will say a prayer for all of you. I hope you will do the same for me.
Wishing you peace and blessings and a sweet New Year,