Diana Butler Bass: Forty Days

There are 40 days to the election.

I invite you to consider this election season to be like Lent, a time of prayer and practice.

1) Pray daily for some specific issue or candidate.

Prayer takes many forms - I often think of Anne Lamott’s triad: help, thanks, wow. This is a time for all three sorts of prayers.

Ask God for help if you are angry, afraid, despairing. Ask for help on behalf of others, intercede for specific issues and candidates. Honestly, the nation and the world are in a desperate state right now - don’t hesitate to pray “help, help, help” on behalf of yourself, for all those who are fearful and suffering, and for the healing of the planet.

Find gratitude in the midst of it all - for truth tellers, activists, courageous voters, politicians who care about the common good, for those willing to take risks. For exhausted campaign workers, brave preachers, overworked parents. Say thank you to God, to the universe, to your friends and neighbors. Remember these words of Maya Angelou: “Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”

Open yourself to awe - you’re going to need the “wow” of birdsong and blue skies, of starry nights or laughing on zoom. Even now, especially now, praise is possible, and it is the song of life. Give yourself moments of wonder.

2) Take action every day.

Donate money, make calls, vote early, write postcards, encourage others, go to a Zoom rally, distribute signs. Light candles. Join a protest or vigil (safely, of course). Help others understand new voting procedures. Volunteer if you are to assist at the polls. Post smart, reliable information and important news stories on social media. Correct rumors and gossip. Be loud.

Pray. Act. Every day for forty days.

Your prayers needn’t be dissertations or polished liturgies. Your actions needn’t be earth-shattering. Heartfelt, even wordless, prayers speak magic into the universe. Small actions add up, daily acts compound goodness.

Invite others to join you in these 40 days.

Share your prayers and ideas for action.

This blog is reprinted with permission from Diana Butler Bass's newsletter, The Cottage. It is published twice a week and covers issues of faith and politics, religion and culture, and spiritual practices. To read more or sign up, please click here.



Prayer and action...can never be seen as contradictory or mutually exclusive. Prayer without action grows into powerless pietism, and action without prayer degenerates into questionable manipulation.
-Henri Nouwen

It’s unrealistic to think that the future of humanity can be achieved only on the basis of prayer; what we need is to take action.
-The Dalai Lama

You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. This is how prayer works.
-Pope Francis

I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer, until I prayed with my legs.
-Frederick Douglass

I've heard people say that God is the gift of desperation, and there's a lot to be said for having really reached a bottom where you've run out of anymore good ideas, or plans for everybody else's behavior; or how to save and fix and rescue; or just get out of a huge mess, possibly of your own creation. And when you're done, you may take a long, quavering breath and say, “Help.”
-Anne Lamott


Dr. Diana Butler Bass

Diana Butler Bass, Ph.D., is a multiple award-winning author, popular speaker, inspiring preacher, and one of America’s most trusted commentators on religion and contemporary spirituality. She holds a doctorate in religious studies from Duke University and is the author of ten books, including Christianity After Religion and Grounded: Finding God in the World, A Spiritual Revolution. For more information on Diana and her work, see http://www.chaffeemanagement.com/dianabutlerbass



Used with permission. Originally posted on Church Anew, a ministry of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie, MN.

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