“Deodorant” Prayers?

I finished Anne Lamott’s book on prayer, which I discussed in my last post, and I have been continuing to pray. I find myself often expressing prayers of gratitude and awe, but I have a hard time with “help” prayers.

I remember in youth group in middle school my pastor called certain prayers “deodorant prayers,” meaning you only used them when things started to stink. He encouraged us not to pray this way. I never really liked this pastor or church, and many of the weird things he said stuck with me. For instance, it was okay to masturbate to cartoons because that wasn’t lustful. Oh what logic and ridiculousness. Thinking like this is what pushed me away from prayer.

Anyways, I am really enjoying and benefiting from my prayers of gratitude and awe, but I wonder why I have such trouble with the help-type of prayer. I know myself well enough to understand that part of it is about giving up control. If I ask for help from some other power, God, the universe, then I am admitting that I can’t take care of it on my own. I can’t seem to find that release yet, but I am working on it.

There has been one time that I truly prayed for help in the past two weeks. My sister went into labor in the early morning of Jan. 4th, and she was still pushing at 7 PM. I knew from her husband that things in the delivery room were getting a little worrisome. I was in the hospital waiting room when I got this news. I closed my eyes and sent my sister strength, and then I asked for help. Nothing specific. I think the prayer was probably just, “Help. Help. Please be with us.” Ten minutes later my little nephew was born, safely. I don’t think my prayer saved things at all. I think my sister’s overwhelming strength did that, but I think my prayer helped me stay calm and maybe my sister could somehow feel that. I am trying desperately not to use the word “energy” here, can you tell? It always sounds so hokey to me, but maybe my prayer for her strength did send her some energy, some strength. Who knows?



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