There are times when all we do is ask, all we do is fall to our knees and cry out for whatever it is that we (think we) want.
But the world is bigger than that. The spirit is bigger.
Some may find that idea a bit floogy, mushy, or otherwise nebulous, especially if they don’t identify with a specific spiritual practice.
Yet, we all have a ‘thing’, even if we don’t call it spirituality or faith. If we are feeling like we are in need, there’s somewhere that our mind reaches for (qualify ‘somewhere’ however you desire: mind as in ‘the way I think’ or mind as in the combination of everything that I am as a being in the universe to include spirit, soul, psyche). Perhaps your ‘thing’ is a Creator (God, Allah, Earth Mother, multiple deities … a combination of these or others), a meditative state or practice, or a philosophical stance.
And while there’s nothing wrong with asking (for those from faith traditions, a fav is the whole ask and it will be given piece), the question becomes also what are we giving?
Those who know me are well aware of my stance. I pray and sometimes (often?) do more asking than giving. For me, the give is the show of thankfulness, which is sometimes (often?) left off. I think of the story of the 10 leprous men who came to Jesus. After they were healed, they all skipped off in joy at the new life they’d been given. Yet, only one turned around to say ‘thank you.’
That story always gets me because I know I can be a selfish creature and reminders are necessary.
I pray regularly: I ask, I knock, I wait with hands empty for the outpouring of blessings, goodness, mercy, and stuff (yes, the idea is to pray without ceasing and that we pray about everything, including stuff — as in praying about getting the bills paid, praying about whether to apply for a new job or not, praying about that math test or whatever it is … yes, stuff!).
But the giving, the thankfulness? Not as much if I am to be honest.
One of the leaders in my congregation said something that has stayed with me. He mentioned that people will come up to him and ask him to pray for them … he asks what they want prayer for and if they don’t know, he tells them they need to be specific. He went on to say that some people will say to him things like ‘You pray for me whatever God tells you.’ His response was something like ‘So you want to base your decisions on what I say God told me about you?’ They usually are startled into recognizing the importance of not just asking (or praying) but asking with intent.
Regardless of your system of beliefs, it’s important to ask with intent.
It’s just as important to turn back and give thanks. and those aren’t a one to one relationship, meaning we should give what we get or be thankful when we get the thing prayed for. The idea is to always be thankful, regardless of where the situation is with all the asks.
Yes, I should look back, go back, say thank-you when the things I pray for come to pass in some way.
Beyond that, there’s plenty for me to be thankful for, to show that I don’t take it all for granted.
health (for me or others),
and all the rest of it.
Those things are what keeps us all putting one foot in front of the other and should be a focus, regardless of spirituality practices.
But for me, it all means looking at the prayers and thanksgivings I’ve written down and posted in front of me. I need to look at it each day. I need to read it each day. I need to soak it in and live it.
I have to get better at balancing my asks and gives.