John Livingston News

A Different Way to Pray

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I was very disappointed with Mitt Romney’s vote on the 1st Article of Impeachment the so-called abuse of power whatever that is. In 2012 I personally gave more money to Mitt’s campaign than I have to all the other campaigns I have contributed too combined. Same with many members of my family. Knowing what I now know I am glad he didn’t win. Without Romney, there would be no Trump.

He is a decent man, loves his family, and was a successful businessman and saved the Salt Lake City Olympics, but during the last 4 weeks of his campaign against Barak Obama, he failed to show any grit and refused to fight not only for himself but for the people who supported him. Donald Trump fights for himself and those that believe in him and that makes up for a ton of indiscretions.

Listening to Mitt’s rational and invoking his loyalty to his oath of office, and his reflecting on the many sleepless nights he has had recently in anticipation of his votes, reminded me of a moment in my own life when the lady who raised me when as a small child, my very wise Quaker grandmother, told me that the reason people have trouble sleeping when they are faced with a difficult moral decision is not because they have trouble following their own conscience, but when their conscience is in conflict with their selfish selves. People with tough moral decisions who follow their conscience sleep well.

I converted to the Catholic faith as an adult, but there is much about my Quaker upbringing by my grandmother that I am very grateful for. Quakers talk about “the voice within” and are always trying to “move toward the light”. I am sure that Senators on both sides of the isle consulted with their hearts and souls prior to casting votes. I hope most prayed to their God and sought council from as our Founders would say “Divine Providence”. But seeking God’s council is a private act and prayer is a covenant in my faith many times it is a Sacrament. It is good that our leaders in Congress pray before each session together, but to invoke prayer and implying God’s council determines how one votes is itself a secular act, minimizes the process that other members went through in arriving at their decision. And what about those who didn’t invoke prayer? What about if two prayerful people come to different conclusions about a vote?

We should ask God for guidance and a heart filled with his grace. The YEA or NEA is our responsibility. It should be a decision based on evidence or facts. God wants us to take responsibility for our actions, not pass the responsibility off to Him. Even Senators with an impeachment vote. Is Mitt implying that his vote was on God’s side or that he is on God’s side? I pray that is not the case.

I am reminded of the Lady who approached Abraham Lincoln at a dark time in the Civil War and in trying to console him opined that surely “God is on our side”. The very wise and devout President stopped in his tracks and responded by saying “Madam, that is not the issue, I pray that we are on God’s side”.

In the book emotional intelligence, there is a story about a 5-year-old girl who had the lowest IQ in her class. When the class was asked to paint a picture of the classroom with the other students in the room she was the only child to place herself in the corner of the picture with the others in the middle. Every other child placed themselves in the middle. This little girl grew up to be the CEO of SCOTT Paper Company, which at the time was a Fortune 500 company.

When our Founding Fathers invoked Divine Providence they always placed themselves at the corner of the picture or conversation — “for ourselves and our prosperity.” So many politicians today invoke prayer and the Deity placing themselves at the center of the picture. When one does this it is much easier to see “the log in another’s eye instead of the log in your own eye” — the inverse of what Jesus taught. When that happens it is much easier to blame others and to even hate. And the anger and hate we are seeing from our political leaders is the antithesis of the grace and forgiveness that was the essence of our founding and the core of who Abraham Lincoln was. Maybe the 1st prayer we should have and what our politicians should consider is “please take this hate out of my heart”

I played football for a coach who was very devout. A legend not only for his 3 State Championships in a row, but for his insight into the process of how he taught his players. Every day before and after practice or a game he would huddle with his coaches and ask: “Are we making better boys”

WE had players of many faiths and ethnic backgrounds. We had atheists Catholics, Jews, and Protestants. Before a game, we all prayed the same prayer “We ask that we may be able to do our best and our success will be in proportion to the effort put forth” We didn’t ask for an outcome of winning. We didn’t ask to make touchdowns or stop the other team from scoring. The prayer acknowledged a process and not an outcome. What happened on the field would be the result of habits and practice and the gifts that God gave us. If every moment of every day we practiced those habits and then repeated them the outcome would take care of itself. Praying for an outcome displaces the responsibility of an action away from the individual

Admiral Dan Gallery was the Captain of a Navy Destroyer that captured the only German U-boat to be captured in WWII. He made a point of having the Chaplain pray with the crew every Sunrise and Sundown. But before battle there was never a group prayer people consulted their own “voice within”. The idea was that God is always present in our lives if we choose to open our hearts to him. And what better time to let Him in than before battle? Acknowledging Divine Providence with thanks and humility is more powerful than seeking an outcome. Maybe we should individually pray and say thank you for the Blessings afforded to us by living in this great country. Then we should ask for forgiveness for not only hate, but for our self-centeredness. We should ask individually and as a country “to do our best and our success will be in proportion to the effort put forth”

It takes effort and work to stop hating. It takes effort and work to love. I pray that we as a country are up to the task.

I’ll keep praying.

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