American football fans are captivated by the Hail Mary pass, and it’s not hard to see why. Perhaps nothing in the game is more exciting than seeing a cannon-armed quarterback desperately sling the ball 60 yards downfield for a game-winning touchdown.
By BRANDON BENDER
Special to The Star
But however flashy it might be, such a spectacular play comes with a catch — it hardly ever works.
It’s unlikely I’ll ever run a football team’s offense, but if I did, I wouldn’t plan on airing the ball out every single play. As a rather practical guy, it’s just not my style. But unbeknownst to me at the time, I once employed a Hail Mary mentality for a very different practice — prayer.
For many years now, I have suffered from significant amounts of anxiety in my everyday life. I was trying to learn to live with it, but when my symptoms grew worse, I began to pray. As my anxiety began to spiral out of control, I increasingly turned to God for help. I wanted a complete, instantaneous, and divine remedy — a miracle.
That miracle never came. For months, I prayed over scriptures, asked others to pray for me, and asked for healing several times a day. Even more alarming was the fact that the more I asked God to heal me, the worse my afflictions became.
Why was God unwilling to help? I began asking other Christians what they thought and got varying answers. Some suggested I needed to wait longer, others guessed that God wanted me to learn something, and some concluded I was not praying properly.
None of these answers were satisfying. Doubts ran through my mind. Perhaps God didn’t care that I was suffering. Perhaps he wasn’t powerful enough to help. Maybe he didn’t even exist.
Eventually, though, I decided to set all these thoughts aside. Regardless of whether God existed or not, I knew I had to take matters into my own hands if I wanted to get better. I finally sought treatment. There is much work to be done, but I am now well on my way to recovery.
Sometimes we need to face our problems head-on instead of waiting for God to reach down and fix things.
Praying for a miracle — like throwing that long pass — might sound like an instantaneous solution, but it’s not always the answer for life’s problems.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with praying. It’s just that we need to do our part as well by working on what we can control.
Frederick Douglass, the great abolitionist leader and former slave, said “I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.”
As for me, while I once relied on the ol’ Hail Mary, I now find more value in gaining “three yards and a cloud of dust.”
Brandon Bender, one of 13 Faith Walk writers for The Star, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.