Prayer. We read, write, talk and agonize about it, resolve to do it, wish we’d done it more than we actually do it. In this it resembles other pursuits of which people overestimate the intensity, frequency and duration—such as reading, writing and sex.
Prayer is archaic, anachronistic, against the grain of modern life, solitary and often heartbreaking, embarked on without the certainty of fruit. It demands an expenditure of time that sometimes seems like a waste of time, a waste of self. Bill Gates recently pronounced, “In terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on Sunday morning.” Of course, of course. Prayer does not promise fame, money, and the love of beautiful people. It’s working with blind faith, stubborn hope, dumb love.