Let me get this out of the way: I am a cradle Catholic. This means that Catholicism chose me, I did not choose it. As a result, there have been times when I fit the description of a churchgoer to a tee, and then others when I don’t think twice about frittering away my Sundays at home.
Churchgoer or not, I do have a strong faith in my personal Lord. This means that I pray, not long prayers every night before going to sleep, but small prayers throughout the day to my idea of an empathetic and helpful Lord.
For instance, milliseconds before repast I’ll sing a little ditty to myself – Thank you, Dear Lord, for this food. Or, when I’m down 30-40 on my service game during a Saturday tennis match and cannot afford a fault, I’ll sing a similar little ditty, this time not to myself but with bated breath – C’mon, Dear Lord.
I’m not alone in believing that prayers like this have a function. In fact, there are an inordinate amount of people who ask for assistance through prayer on a daily basis. Of these, Barack Obama is one of a select few who have the ability to convert a five-second prayer into a marketable commodity. Even as a senator running for president, Obama’s prayer-writing, in terms of consumer demand, is on par with Brian Dettmer Zorro’s act of brandishing his sword on so-called forgotten books and slicing them into works of art.
Alright, I’ll stop beating the bush: Barack Obama can write a regular old prayer on a regular old sheet of paper, slip it between the ancient stones of the Western Wall to join a million and one other prayers and, by virtue of his Barackness, his prayer is automatically more valuable than everyone else’s, at least in the eyes of the Consuming Public, not God’s, and definitely not my personal Lord’s. I won’t speak for yours.
As evidence of this demand, on July of 2008, shortly after now-President Obama doffed the skullcap and left the holy Wailing Wall of Jerusalem, someone who had been watching snatched the folded paper from between the ancient stones and sold it to Maariv, an Israeli daily newspaper.
In this way, more than the eyes of the Lord saw what Barack had written even though he had declined to tell the media anything regarding the folded paper’s contents, claiming it was a private conversation between him and God. Here’s a transcription of the widely-read prayer that is also pictured above:
Lord – Protect my family and me. Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.
With 20-20 hindsight, it would appear as though the Kotel served him well. It got me wondering what would happen if I were to place a prayer in the holy wall, too. Seeing as I will probably not travel to Jerusalem anytime soon, I thought it convenient that Aish HaTorah offers an online service that makes it possible for anyone to have their prayer printed and placed between the stones of the Western Wall for free.
Of course, they do accept donations, but preferably in increments of $18 because in Hebrew eighteen is the value of chai, which means “living” and is related to the term chaim, which means “life”.
For better or worse, unlike Barack’s circulated prayer, no other eyes will see what I wrote other than those of the disinterested Aish HaTorah student charged with walking my conversation with my personal Jesus hot off the printer to in between the cracks.