Merciful Father in Heaven, look down in Your love upon all those who protect us and ours from the ravages of fire and flame. Grant them the courage and skills to carry out their duties well and safely. When they must go into the face of danger, be by their side in the smoke and flames. Watch over their families, ever reminding them that those who fight fire are also in Your loving care. This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, prayer is defined as “the act or practice of praying to God or a god.” In and of itself, this description is brief and general. It actually uses the word “praying” within its own definition! It would seem that there’re some intricacies inherent in prayer and this explanation leaves a lot for us to interpret, understand, and internalize.
Personally, I try ensure the following components are included in my prayers:
- Prayer of gratitude
- Prayer for others (dead and alive)
- Prayer asking for forgiveness (for what I’ve said and done, and what I’ve failed to say and do)
- Prayer for guidance according to His will (I don’t intend this to be preemptive)
My goal for incorporating these aspects in my prayers is an attempt at covering all of my bases, so to speak. I don’t want to leave anyone out and I don’t want my prayers to be so self-centered that I lose sight of the bigger picture. This isn’t always an easy feat, especially when life doesn’t seem to be going my way.
There’s a beauty to prayer, though. It’s an opportunity for conversation with God. I can talk about myself and, as previously mentioned, I can converse with Him about others. One thing of relevance, however, is the fact that we can pray to God about people we don’t even know personally. With all the natural disasters taking place, like Hurricane Michael and wildfires out west, for example, we can pray for its victims and the devastation these events leave in their wake.
I once had a middle school teacher who taught me a valuable lesson, one more important than what could be found in textbooks. She was discussing the notion of supply and demand when sirens could be heard on the street adjacent to our school building. My teacher stopped speaking abruptly and went quiet for a few moments. Not understanding what she was doing, or even if she was okay, my classmates and I began to exchange curious looks around the classroom. That’s precisely when my teacher resumed talking, only she wasn’t immediately returning to economic jargon. Rather, my teacher said that we should always say a prayer when we hear those signals.
To this day, whenever I hear such an alarm, I prayer for the first responders (EMT’s, police officers, and firefighters), that they may swiftly and knowledgeably react to an unknown situation. I also pray for the safety and recovery of victims (and yes, even the perpetrators, if any are involved).
I have adapted this practice and applied them to other circumstances as well. For instance, whenever I’m on a plane that is preparing for takeoff, I pray for the pilots (that they can make sound judgement calls when navigating), that the cabin crew can perform their duties responsibly, and that the passengers can remain calm. I’m ultimately praying for everyone’s safe journey.
I also pray for medical staff, particularly before a loved one is undergoing a surgery. I pray for the surgeons so that their training, knowledge, and skills don’t fail them and that no unexpected emergencies arise during an otherwise routine procedure. Furthermore, I pray for the recovery of the patient and the patience of his or her friends, family, and caregivers throughout this process.
All of these scenarios emphasize the power and value in prayer. Our words don’t fall on deaf ears but, together, our entreaties showcase the strength and magnitude that is God’s people. Imagine the beautiful red, yellow, and orange leaves as they blow in the wind this way and that on a crisp fall day. Individually, there doesn’t appear to be many leaves. Now, picture raking them up and staring at all the piles that have been collected. Consider the time it would take to accomplish this task. Such a visual showcases the power of prayer when warriors come together in a united front. Prayer warriors may not physically be present in one location but their prayers all go to the same place…to God.
Ironically, it can be easier to pray for someone that we don’t know than for an individual that evokes bitterness or resentment from us. If this is the case, then start and work your way up to true humbleness, being the bigger person. Pray that God will give you the strength and courage to overcome such feelings. Ask God for the fortitude to pray for your enemies!
This is the power of prayer! We are fortunate to pray to God who understands our humanity and accompanying strengths and weaknesses. Don’t forget…there’s always an opportunity for prayer!