Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them.
So many people misunderstand the nature of prayer and treat it childishly like a shopping lists their god-keeper must procure for them, but we’ll save that for another time. What begs exploring today is our longing and determination to be safe.
I think we do a lot of things, consciously or subconsciously, in order to feel safe. We get our back up when we see change coming and bolt our door in an effort to stay clear of it. We are in love with our routines and habits, useful though they might not be, and absolutely abhor being tasked with any adjustments to our life or the way things are. We lull ourselves into a false sense of security but every day we are reminded on the news or in our personal lives that we will not live forever, that danger, although not personally set as a trap against us, will ultimately reach us or someone that we care deeply about.
And so we pray to be sheltered from dangers. We go to church, say our rosaries, give ten percent of our paycheque to the poor. We less ourselves three times, we invest in retirement plans, and put our homes in governments, churches, and superstition. Not all of us, and not all the time, but I think we are all guilty of hiding from fear, and guilty of ignoring the obvious. That one day we will fail to breathe, and more importantly that until that day we do draw breath from the universe, and should probably do a little something with it.
Prayer is better spent asking to be fearless. The dangers are here. The dangers will come. The dangers you will face will try to knock you down, but no matter, you will go through it. You cannot not go through it, so you might as well decide today, decide right now that you want to be fearless. Fearless, not stupid. Brave, not cocky. You want to accept whatever sadness, or loneliness, or personal adversity tries to get the best of you. Instead of crying and complain how unfair it all is, your time is better spent embracing that danger and fearlessly facing it.
We call this heroism. We write books and make movies about heroes. Ordinary people, like you and me, facing incredible dangers, and acting fearlessly to overcome them. People like us, but not us. Why not us? Why not me and why not you? You are no different than anyone else. They are no more special, or deserving, or talented than you.
But perhaps they do have a touch more fearlessness. A fearlessness that becomes habitual, but a habit that will not come if you don’t pray, beg, and yearn for it.
The next time you drop to your knees in prayer. The next time you enter into a conversation with your God, or whatever cosmic force you think generously created the universe, thank them for their love, and ask them for a little more fearlessness. A little more, and a little bit more. Face down your dangers. Stand tall, and be the human being you were created to be.
Fearless and strong.
Determined and brave.
Shelterless, but with two open arms, ready to grapple anything that comes your way.