In the church of my youth, I never once heard anyone read a prayer. The only true prayer, we were taught, is spontaneous, conjured up from the depths of the heart, unplanned and unedited.
At a menâ€™s breakfast one year ago, months before the pandemic, a scientist stood and read an opening prayer off his iPad.
Lord, we are thankful that we live in a country with separation of church and state and the right to assemble so we can meet here together without fear of tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, arrest and imprisonment or being shot with live ammunition. As we sit down to another great breakfast, we are thankful that we live in a country of unprecedented affluence. Our country contains roughly 5% of the worldâ€™s population yet we account for 25% of the worldâ€™s consumption of resources and are responsible for a similar proportion of the worldâ€™s waste. As we enjoy this day, let us remember those who lack our freedom and who lack even the basic essentials of clean water, adequate food and medical care. Today let us especially remember the young woman in Afghanistan who, after a difficult home delivery, was being rushed to a medical facility by her family when their car was blown up by one of our drones and also remember the children in Venezuela who are dying from sickness and starvation because U.S. sanctions have made it impossible for them to get food or medicine. Amen.
I liked the struggling and forethought that went into the prayerâ€™s composition. I liked the balance struck between gratitude for much that is so good about our country and outrage and remorse over what needs refining.
The prayer was honest, passionate, specific, contemporaneous and disturbing. Although now itâ€™s dated, I still think about it.