In the days leading up to the Super Bowl (read: plug in the crock pot honey we're making the good queso!), there was something of an Internet firestorm around a personal email sent by Tom Brady's wife Gisele Bundchen. (Tom Brady is the quarterback for the New England Patriots, Gisele is a super model...both of them weigh less than I do). She apparently was asking "close friends" and family to pray for Tom and send him positive "vibes".
The email leaked, of course, because nothing online is private, friends! (repeat that over and over to yourself...and to your teenagers). And comedians and sport casters had a field day, and I have to admit I laughed at some of the jokes.
But then I started thinking about prayer and the common theme to most of the jokes. Most pundits and comedians, and even people in my own gene pool, said something like "Why does Tom Brady need prayer? He wakes up next to a super model every day? He has millions of dollars! He's famous! He plays football for a living" and on and on the litany of "good things in Tom Brady's life" continued. So is that what we've reduced prayer to?
Only praying for things when life is bad? Only praying when there's illness and no one in the bed next to us, certainly not a super model? I hope not.
I must admit that I catch myself being far more "prayerful' when things are hard, and I'm scared, or sad. When I was on my 5 day cruise two weeks ago, I'm not sure I spent a lot of time praying! (slumped over the slot machine saying please please...doesn't count!)
It's a funny thing about prayer. Prayer isn't just about spewing a laundry list of complaints or problems....though it certainly can include that! (see the Psalms!) However, if we only see it as an emotional band-aid, one that we don't need unless we're bleeding, then we've missed an awful lot of the point. Prayer is about relationship and drawing deeper and deeper into that relationship in all times and places. I don't just talk to my husband when I'm upset. I don't just talk to my girlfriends when I'm sick. It's times of sorrow and joy and sadness and celebration....all of those times...that's what I want to share with my friends and family. So how much more must that be true for the infinite holy mystery we call God?
As the season of Epiphany comes to a close (sigh), and the season of football has ended (heavy sigh), and as we anticipate the season of Lent, I would like to invite all of us, myself included, to a time of prayer....real...true....deep prayer. Not just rattling off lists of things we need, but listening, praising, thanking, petitioning, and praying for others....maybe even the rich and famous!