The Force will be unleashed on a hungry public this Friday. Popcorn and slushies will fertilize the minds of moviegoers eager to digest the wisdom of the Jedi warriors. Or, if not to digest wisdom, perhaps to accompany sheer entertainment.
How many times have we jocularly tossed “May the Force be with you” to friends and family? Such empowering valedictions are a (usually) well-meant attempt to boost the energy and sharpen the focus of loved ones embarking on a challenge.
My prayers are with you
Blessings upon you
The urge to pray or otherwise lubricate the channels to ease the journey of those close to us is universal.
NPR talk show host Diane Rhem once asked her guest, former President Jimmy Carter, to describe his prayer life while in the White House. After Carter affirmed daily and frequent prayer while president, Ms. Rhem followed up with “Were your prayers answered?” With a sheepish grin (I’m sure) that could only be imagined by radio listeners, the peanut farmer quickly responded with “Yes, all my prayers were answered. But, you must understand that sometimes the answer was “No”!”
Prayers for self and others can only hurt if they become an excuse to slack off. Hope must be accompanied by effort. The Sufi master: “Trust Allah, but tether your camel first.” Or, more crudely, Frank Loesser put it to song in 1942 in response to Pearl Harbor attacks with “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.” Every sign of the cross preceding a foul shot must be accompanied by hours of practice. Prayer isn’t enough—there’s work to be done. But for many, prayer is an unseen partner that makes the work more standable.