So the government of South Africa has put out a call. They want prayers for Nelson Mandela.
Now I just need to say flat out, I am a zealous, starry eyed fan of Nelson Mandela. I signed silly petitions to free him from prison years ago, called legislators and urged them to support the boycott of South Africa during the apartheid era, and I still get teary eyed thinking about attending that ticker tape parade in his honor here in NYC. Like so many others, I have followed him as a human being, and I’ve followed his career, and I honestly look to him as a superhuman superstar.
So prayers, huh? I mean, those silly petitions I signed years ago didn’t mean anything either. So I suppose I could offer up a prayer. But I’m really unclear. What is it that I am supposed to pray for?
Are we praying that he gets better? That humanity gets to enjoy the honor of sharing planet earth with him for another decade or two? I mean, the guy is 94, and has lived a thousand lifetimes in those 94 years.
His immortality perhaps? Seems unlikely.
Or are we praying that he is comfortable and pain free? Are we beseeching God not to make him suffer in his final days? Are those the sorts of prayers that God likes? I mean, He might be inflicting pain on this man just because. But if enough of us pray, maybe He won’t? Is that what God is like?
Are we praying for his soul? I mean, are there those here on earth who are concerned that Nelson Mandela might not be worthy of a reward in the afterlife, and so we are praying to God to point out his good deeds, and beseech the Lord to forget his trespasses? I mean, during all those years in prison, I bet there were times that he forgot to keep the Sabbath holy. And that is one of the BIG TEN sins. Or maybe he coveted his (former) neighbor’s home during those years in prison, and envied those who did not share his fate. Do we think that maybe God is still holding a grudge over that silly stuff all of these years, in spite of his momentous accomplishments? Does God need us to remind him of what is really important?
I would love to honor the man. But prayers? Really? Religious folks here… can you tell me what the content of those prayers might be?