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The Comfort (and Confusion) of Prayer

sunIn the last few months I have at times felt overwhelmed by the number of prayer requests making their way into my life.

Many of these prayer requests have been quite specific, too – for healing, for safe travels, for comfort after breakup or loss, for successful adoption, for a cure…..

It also feels important to mention I’m not just talking about folks I know only through Facebook….I’m talking about people who are so close to me that imagining life without them kind of feels like imagining life without breathing.

In other words….not good.

Of course, being the type-AAA personality that I am, I have eagerly leaped at each and every prayer request, taking my commitment to offer up such prayers as I can manage to compose quite seriously.

I mean, a person can’t just say they will pray and then not do it. That is like lying to God (a lose-lose situation no matter how you slice it).

Plus, it is highly comforting to ask someone I care for who is struggling, “What can I do to help?” and receive specific and detailed instructions.

Yet when it comes to handling prayer requests, this doesn’t always sit well deep down inside.

For instance, what if what I am being asked to pray for – or what I am choosing to pray for – on that person’s behalf is the last thing they really need?

What if, by turning my daily prayer and meditation time into a one-way request hotline, I am doing my loved ones more harm than good?

Sometimes, to ease these concerns, I simply pray, “Please just help them in whatever way they most need.”

This feels better….but then there is the concern that this prayer is not specifically what I committed to pray for on the other person’s behalf.

So now I’m not lying to God, technically, but I’m still lying to my loved one….or at least whitewashing the truth.

Plus, what kind of heartless individual would witness a friend or family member in pain and not want it to end as expeditiously as possible?

How could the “pray-or” (this would be the one who is praying, in this case me) in good conscience pray for anything other or less than total, speedy relief?

Herein lies the confusion.

My mentor has a very deep faith and inner spirituality – it is one of the qualities that drew me to her right from the start.

She often speaks of how she can feel the energy of her loved ones – sometimes without even knowing why. Her prayer life is rich, deep, and seemingly confusion-free.

When speaking with her, sometimes I start to wonder if just loving someone might be enough – if love itself carries the true essence of prayer and providing more specific details thus becomes unnecessary.

What if prayer is more like the meditation I so dearly love – silent, still, deep, rich in a type of two-way ongoing conversation that covers every topic yet requires no words?

What if, in those silent, still spaces, That which infuses All gently equips me (in the true nature of the Serenity Prayer my mentor taught me so many years ago) to do what I can – practically speaking – to help my loved one, while reminding me to leave the rest of what I cannot control up to That which can?

If so, I can’t help but think this particular kind of prayer must find its mark…every time.

Today’s Takeaway: Do you ever feel confused by the request to pray (in general or for specific issues) or by the practice of prayer itself? What is your favorite way to pray? What does the word “prayer” mean to you? When you think of a “master pray-or,” who or what (if anything) comes to mind as a source of inspiration and guidance?

Sunset image available from Shutterstock.

The Comfort (and Confusion) of Prayer

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2016). The Comfort (and Confusion) of Prayer. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 28, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Sep 2016
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