What Will Prayer Do?
I had a very interesting encounter today. I was at Meijer, a local grocery store, looking for a lock for my work locker. Suddenly, I was glommed onto by a group of teenage girls. Say, what?
They were evangelicals. The lead one asked me if there was anything I wanted prayed over. My thought went immediately to my oldest brother, Dave. He has already admitted his liver has stopped working and he may as well keep on drinking. I thought it would be a good idea if he stopped drinking and got his affairs in order with his daughters and son. So I asked them to pray for him to stop drinking. They did so. They were so earnest and true. I was touched by the purity of their intention.
Little did they know that I used to be evangelical and then Greek Orthodox. As if I had never prayed for anyone in my family. They meant well and I didn’t think about them again until I got home.
Wait a minute. Did I just pray for Dave to die? I already know he has no intention of stopping drinking. If he continues to drink until he dies, then I just semi-knowingly prayed for him to be dead, because I already know that the cold, clammy hand of death will likely be the only thing that breaks Dave’s grip off that can of Bud Light.
When I was younger, the hope was recovery. Perhaps my brothers could get straight and sober and my husband Barry could lead the way. At this stage of cirrhosis, recovery is not an option, only death. The only hope now is for the next generation not to destroy their brain cells and to be much more honest with themselves than anyone in this family has ever been. (“This family”, not “my family”, because I have never truly been a part of it on any level.) Dysfunctional systems can end in two ways: recovery or death. But change is hard and many people would rather die than change. We all make choices.
My attitude now is simple: as long as the pretense of this being a normal family continues, I’m out. The system needs to die. My hope is for the next generation to find recovery while young enough to do so.
Still, I am terribly curious as to what, if anything, prayer will do. It would be nice to find out a decade from now that Dave made things right with his children during a brief stint if sobriety. Only time will tell.