Prayer and the universal kitchen
I was talking to a friend about prayer recently. She told me a story about a friend of hers who had been facing some very tough circumstances which he couldn't control.
"I felt terrible," she said. "I couldn't do anything for him at all. I couldn't give him any money, I couldn't take him anywhere. I was just powerless to help."
What she did do was to say a prayer for him. It was a prayer she had seen written out somewhere and even though she doesn't identify with any religion or particular belief system, she prayed it.
Apparently, things began to turn around for her friend almost immediately. Within a day he had found a way out of the difficult circumstances and was able to turn things around. My friend was impressed.
"I don't know anything about it," she told me. "But it seemed to work."
I'd be interested to meet someone who had never prayed in their life. We all seem to do it, especially when our backs are against the wall and we can't find our own way out of a problem.
If you imagine someone praying as being like a child asking for a chocolate chip cookie, the way my friend prayed, and the way many people pray is as if they are walking into the giant kitchen of the universe and yelling in a desperate voice, "Is there anyone there? Can I get a cookie? Please? Just this once!"
That's fine. And, like my friend did, sometimes they get their cookie. But they're not looking at where the cookie came from or who gave it to them. And once they have their cookie, they're outta there, munching hard and not looking back.
In every kitchen, there's a cook. And usually, the better the kitchen, the better the cook. In the kitchen of our astounding, amazing universe, there is a pretty talented cook. And he gives a lot of chocolate chip cookies to children who turn up to the kitchen a few times and yell or beg or bargain for them.
But think of it from your own perspective. If you'd worked hard over a batch of gooey, warm chocolate chip cookies, wouldn't you prefer to give them to the child who came into your kitchen, spoke to you by name, asked you politely for a cookie and then sat with you to eat it? Wouldn't you prefer to give your cookie to the child who loved you and appreciated your cooking and who just wanted to hang out with you?
Prayer does work, because there is someone out there who is bigger and more powerful than us and because he shows grace and mercy. But if you want that cookie, it's a whole lot better to stay in the kitchen and get to know the cook, not just because it's polite, but because you never know... he may have a recipe for incredible gingerbread up his sleeve.