On Monday night I posted the following request on my Facebook account: Tomorrow, please pray for my daughter. It is her last day of testing, and two of her most important tests: Math and Japanese. Truly, she needs your prayers. I really don’t know what to pray for, just know that we need them. Thanks, R
Never would I have thought that I needed to defend my request. If you are reading this post hoping that I will defend the post, you might want to stop reading right about now. I will never defend a prayer request. Period.
I don’t expect my Facebook friends to know me, they couldn’t possibly know that yesterday I functioned on three hours of sleep, worked in my garden, helped my husband construct a frame where we will lay tile (yes, my toe really is broken), cut down two trees and stacked the limbs at the street, fixed dinner, took my daughter to a job interview, and wrote over a thousand words for a short story collection. (my point: busy day). My Facebook friends don’t know that I do NOT have cable television, that I don’t care who is on American Idol, or Survivor (is that show even on?) I live in Atlanta where I desperately try to be as unplugged from television and its bad news as much as possible. I try to plug into my family. My friends know that if something bad happens in Atlanta, please call me on the phone, otherwise I’ll be working, doing, and living the life I so love. We, like many of you, have serious life-and-death issues in our personal life that are far more “important” (to some) than passing tests. I don’t share my family’s struggles, they deserve their privacy and I respect that. But know that a prayer request for tests are heard by the same God and listened with the same ear as when I fall before him praying for healing and one more day with my loved ones.
My face-to-face friends also know that I am not a bible scholar. I am a believer, a sinner, a reacher-out to God on a daily basis. I pray for strangers, random people, friends I know, my family and sometimes (rarely) I even pray for myself.
So imagine my shock when I found the following comments to my prayer request:
I believe deeply in the power of prayer, but I have to say now that my prayers are those who are victims of the devastation in Oklahoma. That is deep and horrific suffering there, and those folks need great prayers for healing. I’m a mom, and yes, I know the need to pray for a daughter. Mine has been through some life threatening times. What we need here is perspective . I do hope you send up some prayers for the many tornado victims. I mean this. I do not take prayer lightly. It is a deep focus of my spiritual energy merging, I hope, with God. So please do send some focus and prayers to those in the deepest need. I’m sorry but Math and Japanese tests don’t compare to the loss in those tornado torn states. (name withheld, and she removed her comment later today)
There are many reasons why a person might post something of this nature. Which is why I visited her Facebook page to see if perhaps she lived in Oklahoma, had posted a plea for those she knew. There were none. No prayer requests, no mention of the victims in Oklahoma at all. What troubles me further is that this person is an author, a colleague, someone who while I do not personally know, made a conscious decision to take the time to write this comment on my wall. Authors are basically forced to be “out there” under scrutiny. If you’ve written anything longer than a grocery list then someone has voiced their displeasure. I don’t really understand why she felt the need to post what she did other than her comment allows me to talk to y’all about prayer.
As an author there is an unwritten rule that unless you are a Christian author, published by a “Christian Press” it is in your best interest to keep God in a box, beside your bed, taking Him out only when you need Him, never during a book signing, conference, conversation where someone else might overhear, become offended and decide not to purchase a copy of your work. Now if you have written about a controversial subject one that uncovers the evils of the church, then by all means talk all you want. Otherwise, answer questions in an indirect manner, politically correct of course. Don’t offend someone who might be there to purchase copies of your book.
While I was in Texas speaking at the Pulpwood Queens I met a group of Queens who had a photo of their friend, Susan. Susan sat at the table with them, wore a different tiara each night. Drawn to these ladies for personal reasons, I asked about Susan’s illness, cried with them, understood their concern, admired their love and devotion to a friend. When it was my turn to speak on the panel, I am sure that some people were offended when I began my talk by asking for prayer for Susan, whom I did not know other than having just learned that she had cancer and was in the fight of her life, a fight she lost a few months ago.
Here me clearly, selling books is not a priority. At that moment, praying for Susan was.
As an aside: perhaps this is why I don’t have a book contract, because I won’t put God in a box, because I try my sinful best to carry Him with me. When asked, and sometimes when not, I try to give God the glory and credit for my life. He gave me the writing gift, I did nothing but provide the fingers and even those are not my own.
I don’t mean to ramble, but this morning as I prayed I was just overwhelmed with the suggestion that my prayer was less important than those in Oklahoma. Or worse, that I didn’t care about those who suffer and instead thought my prayers were more important than the victims in Oklahoma. Then I remember God himself says, “come all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.All. Everyone. God doesn’t prioritize, saying: “Today is BIG PRAYER day. Don’t bother me with little prayers. No! Don’t bother me with those small-tiny prayers. Keep them to yourself. I don’t have time. God does not prioritize sin (no big or little sins) man does; and He does not prioritize our prayers. He is always waiting for us to reach out to him with every concern, be it those in Oklahoma or little ole me in Atlanta.
God didn’t say, “today is Renea’s day. I’m only listening to her prayers. Today, she gets everything she wants.”
Because honey, if God proclaimed a Renea day my mouth would ramble things that I really, really want
Could there be food for those hungry, the starving, those who won’t eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner, not those who have run out of ice cream and feel a slight twinge
Could the abused children be removed from their circumstances, could they know love
Could there be peace, just today since it’s Renea-day could we have a day, where no one is murdered, where no one dies from violence, where all of our loved ones stay with us, please, (it is my day after all)
Could there be jobs for the mom’s and dad’s who have been searching for years
Could there be healing from terminal diseases, all of them not just cancer
Can those struggling with addiction be cured
Could there be love, a hunger to love one another instead of saying something to harm another
Could rain be sent to drought ridden areas, and sun sent to those areas underwater
Could the homeless be comforted, the dying not be alone, could we learn to love each other
Could we reach out to you and be hungry for more of YOU, Lord