My friend Caroline called today. I met her in the fourth grade. We went to the same Baptist Church, got saved on the same day, and were baptized together. I could tell Caroline was disturbed about something, but she was hesitant to talk freely. I encouraged her to trust me and coaxed her to tell. The story she revealed is an important one. When all is finally told you will understand why. Carolyn agrees with me that people need to be aware of this, and encouraged me to write about it. For reasons that will soon be obvious, she made me promise to keep her identity anonymous. That is why I’ve tweaked the details to make the story fiction and insure anonymity for everyone involved. Thank you and blessings to the real people who provided the inspiration.
Baptists are people who pray. Praying is a powerful thing. If you want to know about the power of prayer, ask your grandmother’s Sunday school class to pray for you. Those little old ladies can pray people out of hospitals and make plants blossom. This is no joke. Prayer experiments have been conducted. It is a scientifically proven fact. If you do not believe me, I suggest that you conduct some prayer experiments of your own, like Caroline did. Before Caroline could accept the prayer experiment data she had read about in a magazine, she prayed for her garden to see if she could duplicate the results. She planted three rows of peas, and prayed for two of them twice daily.
Caroline prayed for the first row of peas unconditionally, simply asking God to bless the peas and help them grow the very best they could grow. She prayed for the second row of peas to produce a minimum number of blossoms per plant. The third row of peas didn’t get any prayers from Caroline at all. When the pea plants began to blossom, Caroline was quite astounded by the results. “Praying works!” Caroline asserts. She encouraged me to pray for my tomato vines if I wanted to know which kind of praying works best.
In addition to praying, Caroline likes to crochet. Her grandmother Nettie taught her how when she was twelve. Nettie always encouraged Caroline to pray while she was crocheting. But Caroline liked listening to the radio better, until she read an article in a magazine about the remarkable results of some prayer experiments. Then she decided to conduct some experiments of her own. After that, Caroline was as enthusiastic as her grandmother about praying while crocheting. She turned off the radio and began to coordinate simple prayers with her crochet stitches. As she repeated "Thank you God!" with every single stitch, she noticed that her work began to have a more crisply uniform texture. When she repeated "Thank you God for Love!" with every double crochet stitch, she began to feel more peaceful.
As all good Baptists do, Caroline receives a lot of requests from her friends and family to pray for people who are sick and troubled. When Caroline prays, she doesn't simply ask God to bless somebody once and then move on to the next person. She repeatedly asks God to send love and blessings to every person on her prayer list repeatedly for an entire row of stitches! Caroline was so enthusiastic about praying after doing her own prayer experiments, that she began to pray for people over and over hundreds of times before moving on to the next person on the list.
After Caroline began to pray fervently in this manner, two people that she had been praying for, told her they noticed a warm feeling in their hearts, whenever they thought about her. Caroline was pleased to learn that her memory warmed people’s hearts. She considered this minor miracle a mere coincidence, but viewed it as a confirmation that praying for people is just as effective as praying for peas. It never occurred to her that there might be some unexpected consequences if God was putting warm feelings in people's hearts because she prayed for them. Carolyn most certainly didn’t expect a simple thing like praying for people, to complicate life dramatically.
Caroline's mother, Dorothy, had high blood pressure and heart disease. When Caroline realized the power of prayer, she began praying for Dorothy fervently and regularly. One day Dorothy called and told Caroline that she had been to the doctor to get her pace maker adjusted. Caroline was alarmed by the news. After all she had been praying for Dorothy, now this?! As Caroline pondered the disturbing news, she distinctly remembered her mother calling one time, while she was crocheting and praying for her, to say that she loved her and was thinking about her.
“You have to be very careful about praying for the elderly,” Caroline cautioned.
“It can cause people to think something is wrong with their hearts!”
“And be careful about praying for men, too!” She said.
“Why men?” I asked.
“It turns them on!” She replied.
"No way!" I exclaimed.
"Uh huh!" Caroline asserted.
"You lie!" I declared.
"Nuh uh!" She said.
"Tell me how you know that!" I demanded.
So she did. Gerome and Caroline were platonic friends and Caroline preferred to keep it that way. When Caroline learned that Gerome was going through some hard times, she put him on her prayer list and began to pray for him fervently. It wasn't long before Gerome began behaving strangely towards Caroline. She wondered if Gerome had gone back to drinking as his eyes were twinkling and he appeared to be giddy every time she saw him. So Caroline began to pray for him even more. Then Gerome started flirting with her appropriately. When Caroline asked Gerome what he was so happy about, he told her that he could feel it when she sent him sexual energy!
Caroline was shocked. Sending Gerome sexual energy was the last thing on her mind. But he was absolutely certain that Caroline wanted to have sex with him. And there was nothing she could do or say to convince him otherwise, either. When Gerome finally accepted that Caroline was never going to have sex with him, he told her that he was sorry she had changed her mind. So now, as you can imagine, Caroline is extremely reluctant to pray for men. She isn’t sure what to do now, about the prayer requests that she gets for men.
The trepidation generated by Caroline’s praying was complicated tremendously when somebody gave her a controversial book about Mary Magdalene that was written by an anthropologist. Caroline is a curious, intelligent woman, so she read the book. The author did an excellent job of presenting evidence that Mary Magdalene may have been Jesus' wife. Caroline also went to see a very controversial movie about Jesus. The movie insinuated they didn’t leave Jesus on the cross long enough for him to die, that he survived the crucifixion, got married, and had a family. Caroline enjoyed the book and the movie. She is open-minded enough to contemplate the possibility that Jesus may have fathered some children with Mary Magdalene.
When it was Caroline’s turn to teach Sunday school, she talked about the book she had read and asked her class to consider the possibility that some of the people on this planet, might be descendants of Jesus. A persnickety little old lady named Georgette took offense over this, and decided to get Caroline ex-communicated for being a heretic. The bible says to pray for your enemies and Georgette was definitely out to get Caroling. Although Caroline didn’t think of her has an enemy, she was aggravated when Georgette started campaigning to get her ex-communicated for suggesting that Jesus might have fathered some children. So Caroline began to pray for Georgette.
While controversy was raging in the church like a bomb fire, Caroline decided to crochet an afghan for Georgette. When it was finished, Caroline stopped praying for Georgette. A few days later, Georgette got sick. Caroline and the entire Sunday school class had to pray Georgette out of the hospital. So then Caroline became terribly afraid of what might happen when you stop praying for somebody who was out to get you. To make matters worse, Georgette was telling everybody who came to visit her in the hospital that Caroline was a witch who had made her sick! All Caroline did was ask God to send love and blessings to Georgette. She would never ask God to hurt anyone. She is firmly grounded in spiritual evolution, not spirits and devilution. In Caroline’s humble opinion, praying for somebody to get sick, is like buying a ticket to hell. She would never do anything like that.
When Caroline first began began to pray fervently while crocheting, she did so out of concern for the human condition. Her intention was to make a difference. She wanted her prayers to make a difference in the world. Asking God to send love and blessings to somebody in need, just one time, is like offering a teaspoon of water to a person who is dying of thirst. Why bother praying, if you aren’t committed to seriously helping somebody out? But with all these complications unfolding, Caroline was beginning to have second thoughts about fervent prayer.
Meanwhile, more and more prayer requests were coming her way every day. Caroline had so many people on her prayer list, that she had to start praying for people on rotation. That’s when she discovered people get addicted to prayers. Caroline's prayer recipients began calling to find out if she was doing OK whenever they dropped to the bottom of her list.
Things got even more interesting when Caroline made a hat for Juniper’s birthday. When the hat was finished, Caroline stopped praying, and mailed it to Juniper. When Juniper received the hat, she called and offered to pay Caroline $3000 to crochet her an afghan. Caroline needed money, and she was tempted. But to pray, or not to pray, for Juniper exclusively, while making the afghan, was the question. What would God think about the highest bidder receiving the most prayers, instead of those who needed to have a prayer the most? Needless to say, an ethical dilemma had arisen. But Caroline couldn’t talk to her minister about it, because Georgette was trying to get her ex-communicated for being a witch. Caroline was afraid the preacher might kick her out of church for praying too much, if he found out about this.
So Caroline called me instead, because I am one of her oldest and dearest friends. She decided to trust me because we got saved and were baptized together. Caroline lamented that all she wanted was for God to put her life back the way it was before she started praying fervently and all this crazy stuff started happening. She wonders why the bible says to pray fervently, when it causes so much confusion.
Dorothy may have gotten a pace maker adjustment needlessly. Gerome thinks Caroline was sending him sexual energy. Georgette accused her of being a witch. And Juniper is trying to commission her to make an afghan! Caroline wanted to stop praying and start listening to the radio again. But she was worried about the people who seemed to be addicted to her prayers. She didn’t want anyone to get sick and die if she suddenly stopped praying for them. She guessed she would have to wean them off of prayers slowly. I told Caroline that it would be tragic for her to stop praying, since she has a gift.
“It is not a gift!” Caroline insisted.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Anybody can do it!” She said.
“Are you sure?” I inquired.
“Yes! If I can do it, anybody can do it!” Caroline insisted. "All you have to do is crochet in silence and say a prayer with every stitch. People can feel it if you pray for them fervently! Anybody can do it!"
“How do you know?” I said.
“Because I didn’t intend for any of this to happen!” Carolyn declared.
“It was an accident. Try it yourself if you don’t believe me! You'll find out. I double dog dare you to pray for people while you crochet!"
Caroline is convinced that concentrated attention is the key to affective prayer. She says the more you do it, the better you get at keeping your attention on the words you are saying and the people you are praying for. When she first started praying, she would be thinking about one think and repeating the words robotically. The miracles began after she began to place her attention and concentrate on the meaning of her prayers. If you have mastered the habit of concentrating intensely, you don’t even have to pray for an entire row, before begin to feel it. I’ve tried it and Caroline is right. Anybody can do it.
When Caroline was growing up, she once told her mother that she wanted to be a preacher. Dorothy scolded her and said, “That is sacrilegious! Women can’t be preachers! They have to be preacher’s wives!” It uses to trouble Caroline that women were not allowed to become Baptist preachers. But now she understands why. “It wouldn't be fair to the congregation,” she said. “Women can't pray for men, because men will get an erection fall in love with them. Who ever heard of a minister that only prays for half the half the congregation, the female half? It’s tragic! If half the men in a church thought the preacher was sending them sexual energy, what a circus that would become!” We laughed at the thought.
After our amusement subsided, Caroline said she was going to stop praying for people. My mind began to race. I didn’t want that to happen. There had to be another way. It seemed to me that if more people started praying fervently as a result of Caroline’s experience, a whole lot more healing could take place, and praying wouldn't seem like such a big deal to everybody. Perhaps men could eventually get used to it, and stop having erections over it. If prayer was more commonplace and accepted, medical Schools would teach heart doctors about prayer flutters and encourage them to inquire more deeply into their patients lives before adjusting their pace makers.
“Caroline! Please don’t stop praying!" I said, “Teach people how to pray instead!”
"I thought about that," Carolyn said. "But what if some of them decided to pray for bad things to happen? It would be my fault for teaching them how to pray."
“Maybe that is already happening,” I said. “Stewing and brewing over things that made you angry could have a harmful effect on somebody, if they aren’t aware of the power of their own thoughts and concentration. There are probably people who would stop thinking negative thoughts if they knew. I am sure the good that can come of teaching people to pray, would outweigh the bad.”
Caroline agreed with me that people need to know how powerful thoughts can be, so they don’t accidentally harm anyone. It's probably not a good idea to write angry letters that you have no intention of sending, either, as that requires you to concentrate on a situation that upset you, instead of sending love. And punching on a punching bag when you are mad at somebody is like sticking a pin in a voodoo doll. The thing that troubles Caroline that it might be dangerous to pray for the elderly, since people can feel it in their hearts, and doctors might adjust their pace makers needlessly.
"Why is it more dangerous to pray for those who need it the most?" Caroline agonized.
“I don’t know, but you can pray for them in very small doses. Just say 5 prayers at at time, then pray for somebody else, and come back to them and say 5 more!” I said.
I reminded Caroline that the bible says all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord. After thinking about it for a few days, she called to tell me that she decided I was right. More people need to know about the power of prayer. It is important to have faith in goodness, and believe in human goodness. She encouraged me to write about this share it with people, because this old world needs a whole lot more prayers.