I have a friend in the hospital. His favorite cookies are oatmeal raisin, so I’m baking him a batch. I write this as I wait for one pan to come out and another one to go in. I don’t even know if they allow cookies in the I.C.U., but I’m baking them anyway. I have to DO something. You know that feeling? When someone you care about is suffering and you just want to take it away but you can’t? So I bake cookies. This is my prayer for him. I mix the dough, I add the wrinkled raisins, and I pray to God that he finds healing. It is something my small self can do through God’s good grace.
I’ve been feeling this a lot lately…an aching feeling to do something in situations where I really can’t do much of anything. Sometimes it is small things, like not getting anything to grow in my vegetable garden. Sometimes it is big things, like Pulse in Orlando. People say we can at least pray, as if that’s at the bottom of the “What To Do in a Crisis” list. Isn’t it the most we can do?
Maybe we dismiss prayer because it’s so easy. It’s just a conversation with God. It doesn’t feel like enough. Maybe we dismiss it because it’s hard to see the fruits of it sometimes. Answers don’t come readily, or in the way we wish they would. Maybe prayer can feel one-sided. We talk, we wait, we wonder. Is God really out there?
But I think God puts the ache there to begin with. God starts the conversation before we even fold our hands together in prayer. God calls to us…come, please, come. God calls to us to be with God. And it is because of God’s good grace that we go to prayer. It’s why I’m making cookies. I don’t think I came up with the idea on my own. God put the “I-need-to-DO-something” feeling on my heart and I just went along with it. How else do we weather storms but to go to God in prayer? Jesus said it is the only way. Even if things don’t get better, there is healing…there is solace…there is comfort…there is company. Prayer DOES make things better when we look at it that way.
And so the last batch is now in the oven. The prayer for my friend draws to a close. My son runs up to the counter to be a taste-tester, and he pronounces the cookies good. To me, they are good in more ways than taste. God made them a prayer by God’s good grace. It says in Psalm 63 that we will hear this Sunday, “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.” That is the aching feeling God puts in us. So let’s go to God in prayer and answer that thirst. It is the most we can do, whether it is a friend in the hospital, an empty garden or a terrorist attack. Just let God in, and pray.