Pray to become less trapped in our narrow points of view

The National Day of Prayer was May 2. I surely need to get better at praying. Like a lot of people, I don’t pray until things go sour or I have some daunting challenge heading my way. I pray Monday mornings when I’m behind on projects that are due. I pray every April 15 — after cursing — when a large sum of taxes is due. I pray vigorously when people I love are ill or worse. My best prayers have come in the mornings after a long night at the pub, when I “pray to porcelain.”

Prayer, according to, is a “petition or entreaty.” It is a conscious attempt to embrace good and root out evil by asking God to give us the grace to be better. To me, prayer is like tuning a radio. It is a deliberate, conscious effort to hear and understand with greater clarity what good and truth and beauty are and then, hopefully, better align myself and my actions with them.

Hopefully, with prayer, we become more understanding, forgiving, loving and gracious — we become less trapped in the narrowness of our limited points of view. Some may think the concept of prayer is silly — that reaching out to a higher power to get closer to truth is unreal. But you know in your own heart that it makes sense — that we all long to be more virtuous in our deeds.

We are always moved by the virtuous hero in a movie who risks all to achieve a greater good. We always root for the hero who is willing to die because of the power of love and good and right. The trouble is, even the most virtuous among us struggle to do good all the time, which is why we must pray.

I pray that those in my country whose hearts are filled with anger and hate will be given the grace they need to overcome these emotions. I pray that our growing polarization and lack of civility in our politics give way to peaceful, constructive discussion and unity. I pray we find the wisdom to address the many real challenges we are up against.

Various scientific studies confirm that people who pray recover more quickly from health issues than those who do not. Studies also show that people who have others praying on their behalf heal more quickly than those who do not.

Look, prayer is something people from every religion and culture have felt the need to do since there have been people. If you believe, as I do, that there is order in our conflicted universe — if you believe there is good and evil and the two are at battle everywhere every day — then isn’t the purpose of prayer simply to understand and embrace the truth?

You pray to know good. You pray to avoid evil. You pray to better embrace good and root dishonesty and evil from your being. You need not be religious to agree that there is a regular battle going on between good and evil. This battle rages in every human heart. It rages within every religion, political system and on and on. This battle rages because we humans are mighty imperfect and in continual need of improvement.

That’s why this flawed person must get better at praying.

Copyright 2024 Tom Purcell, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. See Purcell’s syndicated column, humor books and funny videos featuring his dog, Thurber, at Email him at