Thursday, May 24, 2012

newspaper column is about praying

Editor's Note: This week's column for the St. Clair Times wasn't a fully formed idea. But it was fun to write, so I hope you enjoy it. As always, you can chime in here or on Twitter.
Praying in all things, except when it might not be necessary

This column idea, believe it or not, began with “Dancing With the Stars.”

Believe me, that’s not something I admit with any degree of pride. I watched the show because I had temporarily lost control of the remote, and my only other choice was to scream loudly until the person in charge of the remote either changed the channel or called the cops to have me forcibly removed from the house. So I chose to grin and bear it.

In any case, this particular episode was wrapping up and Jaleel White — formerly TV’s “Urkel” on “Family Matters” — was in danger of losing whatever challenge he was facing and leaving the show.

(Note: Jaleel White seems like a nice dude, and I confess to watching “Family Matters” a few years back. But Jaleel is neither a particularly good dancer, nor a “star.” And yet he was probably the third-most famous person on the show. I have no idea what my point is.)

In any case, one of the distracting features on the show is to run “tweets” from viewers who are simultaneously watching the show and posting online about it. I’m not sure what the point of this was, either, but one of them caught my eye.

“Praying for Team Jaleel to not be eliminated tonight!!! #dwts”

That led to the following thought: “Wait … God couldn’t possibly be watching ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ could He?”

Weirdly, one of the most pressing issues for people of faith is to know when is an appropriate time to pray. Some I’ve known believe in the approach offered in 1 Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing” and have been known to offer up prayers for runny noses, stuck zippers and slow-running computers. And others scoff and say, “Can we save the prayers for things that matter?”

Poor Tim Tebow somehow found himself in the middle of that fight during the last football season, as people argued over whether Tebow’s faith was some sort of vending machine. If Tim puts in enough tokens, will he win some sort of prize?

And if God listens to Tebow about the Broncos, couldn’t we put Tim in charge of praying about world hunger or ridding the world of boy bands? You know, something meaningful?

The truth is that I’m not sure what the truth is. But the best answer may have come from someone I know who teaches first grade.

“If you’re bashful about what to pray for, you should ask some little kids. You’ll pray about loose teeth, somebody’s missing stuffed animal and somebody’s sick grandma, all in the same day.”

That makes perfect sense, I thought. Do they pray about “Dancing With the Stars?”

“They go to bed too early,” she said.

Fair enough.

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