At the hospital by the front desk, there is a bowl with a little sign that says, “pray for me”, and then there’s a stack of papers next to it so that you can write down a person’s name and toss it in. I’m fascinated by this. I like the idea of prayer; it has always seemed a little like poetry mixed with a wish list to Santa, art and fantasy. I like the idea of telling someone how grateful you are. When I stand at the desk I try to crane my head so I can see what people have written on the notes. I know there's a sadness about it but I don't see it that way. It feels old fashioned, and reminds me of both of my Grandmothers who went to church, without their husbands, every Sunday.
I read recently that people who pray during life and death situations (say they are lost in the woods at night or shipwrecked in the middle of the ocean) are 100% more likely to survive than people who don’t, regardless of whether or not they are religious or believe in God. Prayer gives order and focus and takes you outside yourself. I read too that people who believe that their talent came from God, or even, simply, that they were born with it, are more likely to remain successful than those who feel they just got lucky.
It's strange that there is something so stabilizing about something so etherial, but I guess it's the quiet of it, the reflection and gratitude that you feel. It makes me think that giving up, as in "there's nothing left to do but pray" isn't such a bad thing.