My preschooler’s foot kicked my leg in protest and I stifled a yelp. I tried to maintain the pretense of my eyes being closed by squinting from the bottom of my lids while wrestling El Guille to be quiet. From the pulpit Brother Soandso droned on and on while the clock in my head continued to tick. “How much longer do I have to do this?” I thought, growing ever more exasperated. All around me, I could hear the decibel level rising as other mothers struggled with their children to remain quiet. The culprit? The thirty minute prayer.
Look, I appreciate heartfelt prayers. I love to listen in complete communion with the supplicant. But someone has to tell our brothers and sisters that the closing prayer is not the fourth talk on the program. Every prayer sets off an internal timer: how long can I keep my children quiet? Then I have to divide that ever increasing time with the number of goldfish crackers I have left. I’m dishing them out as fast as I can to the baby while my husband and I are trying to keep our older son from exploding out of the pew like a rocket. The longer the prayer, the worse it gets, for every mother in the congregation. Admit it: there have been a few prayers offered where you’ve thought, “COME ON! Throw me a bone! My children are tired, hungry, and restless. I cannot control them much longer!”
So, to my brothers and sisters, all of whom are probably too old to be reading a blog post on the Internet, I beeseech you, please, for the love of reverence, keep your prayer devout but blessedly brief.