“Ashes to ash – dust to dust”. There is nothing permanent in this life. We sometimes forget that. We believe that having a bigger house or a better car will make us a better person. Finding the perfect job will ensure our happiness. Buying the latest version of whatever electronic device will somehow make us smarter, or “cooler” – at least cooler than our neighbor. And we act like those things are here to stay. As if the new car won’t get dirty next week. As if the roof will last forever on our new, big house. As if we can never be fired. As if there won’t be a newer electronic device next year, or even next week.
Those are all fleeting things and they will not guarantee happiness – not even for a moment. There are no guarantees here on Earth.
The only guarantees in life aren’t in “life” at all. The guarantees only kick in after we die on Earth and are joined with our Heavenly Father. So what do we pray for while we’re here in this fleeting moment on Earth? How do we enrich our lives, and those of the people around us, through prayer?
I believe that prayer helps us focus. Just as the Pastor’s quest to me a few years ago made me stop and consider what I really needed to ask God for in Joe’s life, prayer can help us focus on what’s important in life. And it’s not the material things we accumulate on this Earth. “I’ve never seen a hearse with a trailer hitch” is a line from a recent country song. All those things we work so hard to buy and store in our garage won’t be going with us when we leave this earthly life.
And hopefully our legacy won’t just be the amount of stuff we crammed into the basement, the garage and the attic. Our families won’t sit back after our funeral and talk about how glad they are we accumulated all those things that they now have to divide, sort, and haul off to Hospice or Goodwill. In fact, just the opposite will be true.
Our legacy has to be our actions – how we treated people while we were alive – not what we left for them stored in a box. How does prayer fit into all this? Prayer helps us focus. If we stop and take the time to really pray, we can focus on our minds on what is important. We can find ourselves realizing that praying for Joe is not just a quick item to check off our “to-do” list, but a way to actually think about what Joe and his family need. Just praying that God will ease Joe’s suffering won’t really help his family in their time of need. Getting up, going to the kitchen, making a casserole, and taking it to Joe’s family can help relieve some of their day-to-day struggles. Sitting down with Joe’s family and letting them talk – just talk about anything and everything – can make their day a little brighter. Thoughtful prayer can lead us to a place where we can actually make a difference in someone’s life.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father – as I enter this Lenten journey of contemplation, guide me to a more meaningful and thoughtful prayer life with You. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.
Thanks to Sylvia P. Greeson for sharing this devotion.