My first school was a convent. We used to pray before every lesson (which was called period), before lunch, and during the morning assembly. Other than this, my friend and I would visit the chapel inside the school before any exam. This was easily praying about 10 times a day. If a fellow class student was sick, we prayed. If there was an earthquake anywhere in the world we prayed. We also had a daily lesion of “Moral science” in which we were taught to become better human beings. I therefore had a very God-fearing childhood.
The habit of praying for everything continued throughout my childhood and teenage years. The prayer would be very specific such as ‘Please God let me get a 100 on the Math exam.’ One of the strongest prayers of my childhood was when I prayed for my pet dog when he was sick. He died. It was the first time my innocent mind had to come to terms to the fact that you could close your eyes, pray with sincerity, be a good girl and yet bad things happened. The dog had died during Navratri. My aunt had told me he went directly to God. I believed her. Prayers continued.
During my teenage years, prayers became more and more shallow. From becoming beautiful and tall, to having my crush ask me out. One time, I was taking part in an international drama festival on historical fiction in New York City. I was representing my school. It was my dream to win the award. This prayer was added to my list. In fact, it topped my list for few months. One day, I asked my sister (seven years elder) to also pray that I win the contest.
“I wish that you win! But I am not going to pray to God for it!”
“What!! You don’t want me to win! It is just one small prayer!”
“I never pray to God for such things. I only pray for the life and health of our family. To keep us all well and safe. That’s all.”
“What do you mean? You don’t pray that you get the highest grade in college! Or that you get an internship in NYSE!”
“Absolutely not! I just pray that we are all healthy and happy. How do you know that winning this contest is the best thing for you?”
“What can be better than winning the international history day competition?”
“You don’t know anything beyond that! God obviously does! And anyway none of these things matter in life.”
This was a shocking revelation for me at 10 years old. Was this how everyone prayed? Non-specific prayer for life and health? What if everyone else listed everything in their prayers and I did not? Wouldn’t I be left out? How would God even know if I did not ask!
As I grew up I started following my sister’s way of praying. God knew the best. And I believed in him. In between I think there were some phases of specific prayers, in addition to the regular one for health and wellness. Please save my job! Please save my relationship!
But as life has unfolded, I have realized God’s plan has certainly been better.
Thank God I lost that job! Thank God I am no more with that person!
I hate preaching. I do not follow religion although I believe in God. But I am talking from experience.
For all those having a rough day, or going through a tough phase, this prayer is for you.
© 2017, Tanvi Sinha. All rights reserved.