Posted by: Don Linnen | 28 September 2016

Sending Good Thoughts

I’ve heard that before. When uncertain times are looming or personal sadness is reality. The well-meaning friend sends “good thoughts.” What does that mean?

My coworker attended a funeral this weekend. She told me of the strange and sad coldness in a visitation room filled with people with no detectable belief system. If there was a belief system, it apparently did not involve Jesus.

These uncomfortably grieving folks went through a religious litany of wishing good thoughts, sending positive energy, expressing pious platitudes, and wondering (or perhaps ignoring) about what’s next. It was an empty room full of people.

Often the “sending of good thoughts” comes from someone who’s too cool to pray. What do you do if you’re the only one in the room who prays? You pray anyway. And you listen – not just to the Lord, but to those around you. Love on them. They need it more than you can imagine.

Now it is nice to know that someone is thinking of you. That they remember you. That you’re not totally alone. But how long does that last in the dark of night or the tension of a waiting room?

Prayer lasts. I pray. My dear friends pray for me. Then I KNOW that I am not alone. It’s a reminder that they are in it and God is in it with me. That lasts.

In his excellent book, A Praying Life, Paul Miller reminds us that today’s American culture is a difficult place to learn to pray. We value competency, self sufficiency, productivity, intellect, wealth, and looking good. He says, “Prayer exposes how self-preoccupied we are and uncovers our doubts.”

Again, I’m guilty as charged on both counts. Just as it did years ago, praying often leads to squirming in my seat. I’m willing to squirm if that’s what it takes to bring me closer to what I’m called to do.

And despite being uncomfortable, there is far greater comfort in praying troubled thoughts, mad thoughts, scared thoughts, and good thoughts. 

If prayer is new to you, or you just need a refresher, Prayer 101 is a great place to begin.



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