Thursday, January 11, 2007

The great forwarding debate

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Interestingly, the blog entry from yesterday sparked some strong feelings likening memorized prayers to forwarded emails -- in the sense of how we communicate with our friends, both Divine and human.

Emily said...

I have friends who steadfastly refuse to send me real e-mail messages, opting instead to send me one forward after another, each with a cutesy story, a few platitudes about friendship, and a manipulative note at the bottom accusing me of being "too busy for my friends" if I don't forward the message to everybody in my address book. …

Of course forwards have their place. Every now and then, I'll run across something funny or sweet that makes me think of someone I know, and I'll send it along. But even then, I try to copy and paste the message into the body of an e-mail, take off the obnoxious note at the bottom demanding the recipient forward it to everybody in his address book, and top it with a personal note about why I am sending it so the person will know that I am sending it just to him, and I am sending it because I read it and thought he would enjoy it -- not because I am trying to avoid the supposedly dire consequences of breaking a chain letter or whatever.

I think reciting prayer -- "vain repetition," Jesus called it -- is like forwarding an e-mail: If you want it to mean anything to the recipient, you had better take the time to understand it yourself, your heart had better be in it, and you had better do a little more than simply send it on without even bothering to remove the old headers.

I pray the Daily Prayer every morning, as Mrs. Eddy asks the members of her church to do -- but I try my best to make sure I'm thinking about it, expanding on each piece of it in my thought and finding new meaning in its words, instead of thoughtlessly clicking "forward" and considering that a sufficient substitute for real communication with God.

Read the complete comment here.

Miki said...

Thank you both, Laura and Emily, for an inspiring post. I SO relate to what Emily says about the "forwards"!!

I love memorizing hymns (I also think of them as prayers) because I often find they jog me into right thinking and from there hopefully into right action!

I awoke one morning reciting a favourite hymn from the Christian Science hymnal: "What is thy birthright, man, Child of the perfect One?" (382) I felt this was an answer to recent prayers concerning a family member being challenged with aging, frailty and dementia. My siblings and I are taking turns at caring for her.

At one of our family "conferences" recently I shared another favourite: "In heavenly Love abiding" (148). The beautiful words of this hymn lifted our thoughts above the effects of a gloomy medical prognosis we had heard earlier in the day. The last verse goes:

Green pastures are before me,
Which yet I have not seen;
Bright skies will soon be o'er me,
Where darkest clouds have been.
My hope I cannot measure,
My path in life is free;
My Father has my treasure,
And He will walk with me.

Some members shared their fears and feelings - others asked forgiveness for harsh judgments, misunderstandings, etc. It was a great evening filled with divine Love's presence! One of our nieces wrote the hymn out in full, and it is now on the fridge door for all to read. Harmony and joy continue to mark our family dealings with one another as we pray through this situation. How awesome to know that God hears our prayers - and answers before we call!

That's my favorite hymn.

And this wonderful contribution from Anonymous...

My boss' husband is out of work right now and diligently going to interviews and sending out resumes and doing all the other things one does when one hopes to find a position. My boss, for her part, is praying and trying to maintain a positive attitude about the situation. She told me, though, that she feels almost embarassed to be asking God for help all the time. I told her that her husband will find the job he's supposed to have, at the time he's supposed to have it, if it doesn't find him first. I also told her to try a different tack with her prayer tomorrow morning. Instead of asking God to do something for her, try asking what He wants her to do for Him, and ask for the wisdom to recognize it when He sends her the answer. She was somewhat shocked by the idea, but she liked it.

Great advice to your boss! Please tell us how it turns out.

And then, haha, to read a little parable about why we forward jokes, click here (of course, I found out about it from a friend who forwarded it to me!).

As for myself, I enjoy a good forwarded joke when it's clear I'm not just one of the sender's 200 closest friends. And I like it when people demonstrate an understanding of email etiquette and don't include everyone's address in the email.

In other words, it's got to feel personal, even if it's a forward. Which is really what Emily's talking about in her comment for when you talk with God. You might use a memorized prayer, but you can always make the thought behind it new every time.

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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