All the News that’s Fit to Pray
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – Philippians 4:6
Since November 9, I’ve developed a new habit of waking up, reaching for my phone . . . and reading through the news for about 45 minutes I don’t have, until my eyes bleed and my body is filled with toxic anxiety and anger. It’s a great way to start the day!
NOT. No matter where you stand on any political issue, you probably recognize how counterproductive to a healthy spirituality my fixation is.
But I’m developing an even newer habit for my habit. The theologian Karl Barth famously said that preachers should preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. I haven’t quit my news-in-bed obsession, but I’m trying to make it a spiritual exercise by praying my way through the news instead of simply gorging on it.
First, I breathe in deeply, and breathe out deeply. I read. And as I read, I feel God beside me. I ask God to enter the situation, to live deeply in all parties, and speak to them.
I pray for the outcome I want–I’m not worried that God is going to revoke my non-profit status if I am partisan. But then I ask God to give me a wider perspective. I think of who the most vulnerable people are in each situation I am reading about, and ask God to strengthen them and send angels to their aid–one of whom might be me.
Praying in this way may not change the situation, but, as they say, it changes me.
And, come to think of it, it may in fact change the situation–ever heard of chaos theory? Perhaps a tired, anxious Bay Area mom with bleeding eyes prays an imperfect prayer for peace, and it really does change something across the world in Washington, DC or Pyongyang, North Korea.
For a video perspective on praying the news, click here.
God, within me, beside me, everywhere: reveal Yourself in all our human doings, and help us to be anxious in nothing yet engaged in everything You call us to. Amen.
Molly Baskette is Senior Minister of the First Church of Berkeley, California, and the author of the best-selling Real Good Church and Standing Naked Before God.