Be Careful What You Pray For
Jesus stood still and called them, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” – Matthew 20:32-33 (NRSV)
Years ago in some movie where he was playing God, Morgan Freeman advised his frazzled co-star that if she prayed for patience, what she would receive is opportunities to practice being patient. I can’t remember much else about the movie, but that moment has stuck with me.
I ask for patience and I get stuck behind a sight-seeing tourist on my commute route. What I receive is the opportunity to redirect my natural inclination to press on the horn into some other, kinder action.
I ask for courage and a juicy spider comes scuttling across the floor. What I receive is the opportunity to calm my beating heart enough to usher it out, rather than jump on a chair and call for help.
I ask to have the eyes of my heart opened. What I receive is the beauty of sun dappling through autumn clouds and dahlias blooming in rainbows. What I receive is also the ugliness of children in cages and forests burning and the inexorable pain of pandemic.
Like prayers for patience or courage, all I get when I ask to see is an opportunity to practice—to practice really seeing. Not just with my eyes, but with my heart and my soul and all that I am.
Jesus, give us what we pray for. Open our hearts to really notice and know this ugly, beautiful, redeemed world. Amen.
Jennifer Garrison Brownell is pastor of Vancouver United Church of Christ. Her writing appears in the collection, The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms For the Struggle, available from The Pilgrim Press.