The Best Prayers of the Decade

Mike Jordan Laskey writes:

One caveat before I begin: Of course, only God can receive and, uh, judge and rank prayers. As such, the prayers here are presented in an arbitrary order — 1 is no “better” than 25. Think of this less as a true “25 best prayers” list, which is impossible for any human to assemble, and more of a “25 prayers that brought me closer to God over the past 10 years” list.

25. The backboard slaps in Brian Doyle’s short essay “Elegy Against the Backboard”

This little 2016 essay by the late, great Brian Doyle framed the whole exercise for me. Doyle talks about playing basketball in a men’s league with a quirky, massively talented player who liked to slap the backboard while shooting lay-ups in pregame warmups. The whole team took on this habit before, tragically, the player got very sick and passed away. After he died, a bunch of the guys were playing one night, and, without planning it, they warmed up in the same way, slapping the backboard one after the other. “I wanted to tell you about those few minutes, when we did that little thing that wasn’t little. I bet every one of us remembers those few minutes, too,” Doyle writes. “There are many ways to pray.”

There are many ways to pray. A few different ones comprise this list.

24. The prayer card for unborn babies and their mothers I picked up in the back of a random church before our first daughter was born

My wife and I couldn’t seem to find the words to pray for our first baby in the womb — I guess because it was such a foreign, miraculous, unspeakable experience. I found a little prayer card on the table in a church narthex and we used it for our first two kids before I lost it during our recent move, which was before the birth of our third kid. I don’t remember what the prayer said. But it is such a relief to have words given to you for praying when you aren’t able to handle it yourself.

23. Singing the Salve Regina in Latin with our 4-year-old for a few weeks before she got bored of it and requested a new song

That first kid is 4 now, and a few months ago, she let me teach her the Salve Regina in Latin, which we sung every night before she went to bed. She has a knack for language and pretty much memorized the hymn, which was a pure marvel to me. It got too long for her eventually and she requested other songs. Parenting victories are small and short-lived but still good!…

1. Prayers for Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square when he introduced himself to the world for the first time in 2013

That first night of Pope Francis’ papacy set the tone for the years since. Before he blessed the multitudes outside St. Peter’s Basilica, he asked for their prayers first. Groundbreaking humility. Francis always seems to be asking people to pray for him. I should probably do that. Even more importantly, I should work to grow more comfortable with asking people to pray for me. Because if there’s one thing pulling this list of 25 prayers together has reminded me, it’s that prayer works and has no substitute.

See the full list here.