“I think that the dying pray at the last not “please,” but “thank you,” as a guest thanks his host at the door.” ~Annie Dillard
I think the living should pray like this too. I want to pray “thank you” like the dying, while I’m still here to thank the good earth for opening up her treasures to me. I want to thank the fellow beating hearts who carry me when my spirit fails, and thank the God who gave me breath and continues to breathe life into me day after day.
I am a “please” prayer. A “why isn’t this working out” and “can’t you just…” and “Lord, haven’t I been good enough?” prayer. I feel entitled to these words, as if somehow in my own goodness or in my own sheer luck of being born into middle class America, I’ve earned them. I wouldn’t admit this, even to myself, until the stories of others and their unwarranted pain, their unfathomable suffering, pierces through my muscled and thick heart and they unravel me.
You can’t work in a church for long before brokenness crashes like a wave in your inbox again and again. Broken families, broken bodies, broken spirits. You can’t be human and read the daily headlines, without realizing your comfortable “please” prayers sound ridiculous next to the injustice and suffering you see splayed like a body across your screen.
I need to practice the “thank you”prayers while they still drip out like honey, with pure liquid ease. I need to pray them now so that when I brush up against my own brokenness, my instinct will be to thank rather than to blame, to bless rather than always beg to receive. I have a long way to go, but today, I will pray like the dying.