Scene: You are a customer at a grocery store (pre-Covid 19 because nobody talks anymore), and as you walk-up to put your items on the black moving belt, you greet the cashier, “Good morning, how are you today?” Now, most of us use this typical question as a mere way of politely saying, “Hi”. If we are honest, we expect the other person to say, “I am fine, how are you?” Yet, how many times did a cashier, postal worker, waiter, or anyone else in the customer service industry, actually tell you how he/she was feeling? Instead of, “I am fine”, he/she revealed his/her horrible day in about 30 seconds. Since, I cannot solve his/her life’s issue in a 3-minute conversation, I typically respond with comforting words such as: “I am sorry, I hope you day goes better”. I have even offered to pray and specifically use the person’s name that is revealed on the work badge. As a Christian, it is important that I emphatically listen, and at least let them feel as if someone cares even if only for a moment.
With this type of scenario, it occurred to me how prayer can be used as a way to highlight what is negatively happening in one’s life. Although some use prayer to ask for guidance, the majority of the time when I am asked to pray for someone, it is a request to turn a negative into a positive. Thus, if we are not careful, prayer request can actually promote a negative mentality.
A negative mentality? You may be wondering if my quarantine has lasted way too long since I seem to have lost my mind. Especially, if you are friends with me on Facebook because you have seen all my posts of a picture with a lit candle and a different “prayer” focus every night. So, why am I, a praying woman, saying prayers can promote negative thinking? Let me explain. As humans, we tend to see/focus more on the negative events in life than we do the positive (it is the nature of our sinful flesh) For example, think about the topic of weather. People are constantly (me included- MY RANT: if the weather does not hurry-up and get nice around here, I am moving to Florida so I can enjoy being outside) complaining. Plus, what about work and life? Most people complain about their jobs, their kids, their finances, their messy house/yard, physical ailments, or even their church. I am sure the average individual is not even aware that he has more complaints that come out of his mouth in one day than the fingers on his hand.
During my studies of psychology, it takes at least 7 positives to wipe out just one negative. Hypothetically, if we apply this same concept to prayer, when a person requests prayer for an “undesirable” event, and he verbally ask 10 different people, that means he will need 70 good things to occur to help take his attention off of the 1 unpleasant thing.
Please do not misunderstand me. Prayer is one of our main connections to God and to others. Moreover, the one bad thing occurring in someone’s world could be really bad. The point of this post is NOT to tell you NOT to pray or to even to tell you NOT to ask someone to pray for you. As an alternative, it is to remind you to NOT forget about all positives and to appreciate ALL the praises in your life just as much -if not even more. When we focus on our numerous praises, it helps lift our spirits.
Therefore, the next time you ask for prayer, make a Positive Prayer Sandwich (a spiritual spin to an old psychology term) by evenly spreading the prayer request in between two Holy Spirit white pieces of praise. To illustrate, here is my Positive Prayer Sandwich: "Thank-you God for a wonderful morning walk; Lord, help me to honor You in words and actions during this Pandemic crisis; Jesus, I am grateful that You are my source of Strength, Comfort, and Peace-Amen"!
**7 positives – 1 negative Source example & Positive Sandwich approach