Excerpt from my manuscript (I guess it is not a book until it is published): The Commonzense of Saint James
I believe in prayer, but I also believe that any prayer should be selfless and not self-serving, which unfortunately, is probably not in line with the dogma many Christians believe to be true. Praying that your son gets into dental school seems a little self-serving to me. Praying that your son will accept the decision, whatever it is, with grace and humility seems more sincere.
I have found prayer to be a wonderful time to create space within our lives and in our hearts. This space allows us to be open to all the endless possibilities of need that exist in our own lives and in the lives of others. This space allows room for empathy and compassion to grow and increases the capacity to offer our thoughts and prayers sincerely, as we can see the faces and souls of those who truly need God’s care and ours.
I no longer pray for God to cure my friend’s cancer. Instead, I ask that he be given comfort and strength, and that the caregivers treat him with consideration, respect, and love, and that his family would feel God’s grace and presence in their lives no matter what they might have to endure. I have come to understand that my God doesn’t pick and choose who will survive this dreaded disease. He also doesn’t have a hand in the death of a young teen who dies in a car crash while the drunk driver who caused the accident miraculously survives. I don’t know why any of this happens; I just know it can’t be God’s will, as it is so often thunderously proposed by various religious leaders as some semblance of comfort to a devastated and grieving family. Some things happen in this world that simply occur for reasons we may never understand. Every day there are endless news reports of death, destruction, and sadness. Likewise, every day there are endless possibilities of life, love, and new beginnings, and every day there is balance if we make the effort to attain it.
We all have the free will to choose our paths, and fortunately for us, many have walked before us whose example we can follow. Jesus, Buddha, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Mother Teresa, just to name a few, have all illuminated paths that we can choose to follow. There are many worthy guiding lights and ideologies, and whether your creator is called God, Dharmakaya, Brahman, Allah, or Yahweh, I have faith that salvation is available to all who are willing to walk and live on the path that shows love and compassion to all living beings and the world as a whole. I have confidence that Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad all believed this as well. As American scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor George Washington Carver noted, “Our creator is the same and never changes despite the names given Him by people here and in all parts of the world. Even if we gave Him no name at all, He would still be there, within us, waiting to give us good on this earth.”
“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.” -Dalai Lama XIV