I’m (not) good at math
January 1, 2015
Here’s a parable about Lulu: Every morning before Lulu gets out of bed she goes over her times tables carefully, starting at zero and going all the way to twelve. 0 x 0 = 0, 0 x 1 = 0, up to 12 x 12 = 144. She’s very careful and conscientious and doesn’t miss one. And then Lulu gets out of bed and spends a little time studying her math book. She reviews a few addition and subtraction problems, even contemplates some division. Again, Lulu is very thorough and careful, and makes sure her answers are correct before she puts her math book away.
Then Lulu goes out.
Her first stop is to get gas for her car. Lulu has only $10 in her wallet, and gas is $2.50 per gallon so she wants to be sure she doesn’t go over that amount. She tells the attendant to give her 5 gallons. When the gas has been pumped the attendant comes to be paid. Lulu gives him the $10 and closes her window, preparing to drive away. There’s a knock on the glass. The attendant wants more money. Lulu’s puzzled, but the attendant explains that 5 gallons at $2.50 each is $12.50. Chagrined, Lulu hands him her debit card which he charges $2.50 and then returns. Lulu writes $2.50 on a scrap of paper and drives to her next stop, the grocery store.
Lulu needs 36 eggs for a project at work. She runs in, grabs two cartons of a dozen each, pays for them with her debit card and returns to her car. She writes $4.30 on her scrap of paper.
Lulu makes one more stop at the drive-thru of an espresso stand. She sees that her favorite hot drink is $3.75. She writes that onto her scrap of paper and quickly adds them up: $9.55. Perfect, she says. Because she only has $10 in her checking account. Lulu orders the drink.
Lulu heads to work. She drops the eggs off with a co-worker who asks, “where’s the other dozen? This is only 24.” Lulu stops to count them, and sure enough, there are only 24 eggs. Going on to her desk, she slumps into her own chair just as she gets a text from her bank that she’s overdrawn 55 cents. What??! Another co-worker comes by with some scraps of paper and says, “Lulu, I need your help. I can’t add these up.” Lulu sighs and says, “I’m not good at math.”
Thus ends the parable.
Do you ever feel that way about prayer? Even before you get out of bed, you carefully repeat your favorite spiritual ideas. Then you spend some time with your favorite spiritual texts. But once you get out the door, you don’t remember a thing. And by the end of the day you believe that you don’t know how to pray for yourself, let alone anyone else who may need some help.
Our prayers are like math: they’re actually applicable and useful throughout the day. And when relied on consistently, our outcomes are predictably harmonious. They’re not just words but statements of divine fact, and we have a right to believe and understand them. We have a right to draw on them at any moment under any circumstance.
Just as Lulu truly was good at math, we too, know what we’re doing when we pray. We know that we can reliably trust God and lean on Him, so that, at the end of the day when someone says, “can you help?” we can say, “yes. I’m good at prayer.”
Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link. If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.