Hi! Anyone who knows me knows I pray frequently. If prayer is simply conversation with God, then I would say I'm in some sort of informal prayer for a good portion of the day. I don't say this to boast but merely to state a fact and to perhaps justify why sometimes the only prayer I can say lately is 'What the @%#&, God?' Consider it the crass modern equivalent to Christ's prayer on the cross: "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani” (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me).
I never prayed this prayer before the last year. It's not the kind of prayer you say casually. It means little when you say it because you caused a car accident or didn't get a job or were involved in some other relatively minor mishap. The first time I found myself praying it was while crying on my knees in the bathroom of the oncologists office back in January. I didn't know what else to say to Him at the moment, and it really didn't matter what He had to say in return. I was just mad and confused and hurt, and it seemed like that brief ejaculation (that's what the nuns in grade school taught us to call short prayers) pretty much covered everything.
I've said the prayer many times in the past year. And I found myself saying it again last night, though not on my own behalf. I had just heard a story about a local pastor, Gary, and his wife. Pastor Gary is minister at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church here in Wauwatosa. We have several friends who belong to the parish, and even though we're not parishioners there the church has been supportive of me and my family during the past year. Two of the parishioners made me prayer shawls, I have received letters of encouragement from some of their prayer groups, and Pastor Gary came to visit me while I was in the hospital after my brain surgery. He was a very nice man, easy to talk to, and he seemed very happy. Then last night I heard that his wife had been diagnosed with uterine cancer three weeks ago and that she died two days ago. Can you imagine that? Less than three weeks from diagnosis to death? Maybe in other years I would have found myself saying a quick prayer for her soul and thinking little more about it. But as I lay in bed last night, all I could think was 'What the @%#&, God?' I'm guessing Pastor Gary is saying the same prayer--probably in nicer language--himself right about now. If he is, he probably knows he won't get an answer that clears up his confusion or brings him comfort. But sometimes that isn't the most important thing. God just needs to know what we're thinking.