Growing up I was taught that God heard and would answer all of my prayers. True, the answer might not come in a way I expected or hoped for, but it would always come. A LOT of my childhood was spent in prayer. I prayed in the morning and every night before bed. I prayed at church. I prayed at dinner. I prayed when I did something wrong, looked up at the sky and imagined God's all-seeing eyes on me, full of disapproval. I prayed when I did something right, felt prideful, then guilty. I prayed for my pets, my teachers, my family and my friends. However, in true human form, I mainly prayed for myself.
"I cannot find my shoe and I have looked everywhere. Please find my shoe."
"Melanie is a horrible tranch. Please make her be nice to me. Or die. But only if it's her time."
"Please make Zach want to go out with me."
"Zach does not want to go out with me. Please make Zach move. Or die. But only if it's his time."
Yeah, I was fairly terrible. But then most children are. Children are only able to see a very finite future for themselves and that makes them careless and impatient. They cannot imagine the myriad of unforeseeable events that will shape and change their lives. A child does not see the danger in becoming too attached to the idea of a thing or a person. They want what they want without a thought as to why or what the consequences might be. A child with severe allergies would happily reach for the very thing that might kill them without an adult nearby to stop them.
So I was that kid who wanted so much, so fiercely. I bowed my head and fed my desire to the sky and called it prayer. Over and over I did this, until I reached adolescence, when I began that awkward journey into adulthood and constant praying was discarded along with all the other silly kid ideals I'd once held. But unlike my belief in prayer, my faith in wanting never wavered. I started to look like an adult and speak like one, but the desire remained. Even when I felt like it might kill me, I let it linger. My one last silly kid vice.
I'm thirty now and I only recently started to pray again because I radically redefined what that meant to me. I still deal mainly in supplication, but it has taken on the form of introspective meditation rather than pleading for specific things. It's my way of releasing the want. Reminding myself not to be taken by the idea of things or people or places. It's a constant clash between that reactive kid who wants so much and the adult who needs to extricate herself from cyclic temporal and emotional traps. It's tough to detach in this digital plane where there is so much to desire and comparison is currency, but it's a battle of wills and this want has been winning a little too long.