I wonder. I wonder if anyone will read this more than two weeks after the initial posting. I wonder what I would have said had I been here in San Marcos for the City Council meeting instead of being away on vacation. I am grateful for the decision to continue opening meetings of the Council with prayer. But I wonder. I wonder what we want prayer to do, or not to do at a public meeting. I am quite aware that public prayer is used (and abused) by some as a means for imposing one’s own theological views or political biases onto others. I wonder if God feels as helpless as we do when that happens, or if God is able to do something even with prayers like that. For others, however, public prayer can be a sincere means of invoking their diety to influence the council for good, or even to intervene should the council go down some false path. I wonder if prayer persuades that Higher Power, or Higher Consciousness, or Life Force, by whatever name it is called, to be more interested, or to be more favorable, or to work any harder than it already is. I wonder how much that One waits for our acknowledgement or consent before it gets involved. I wonder if it goes by any rules that we can hold it to, or if it involves itself in our affairs as it chooses. For some of us, prayer is simply our own opening, our surrendering, to the qualities of compassion, of wisdom, of courage, of vision that we all recognize as the qualities of our dieties. I wonder if the One to whom we pray is better able to share those qualities with us when we are open to them. I wonder how concerned that One is with the particular outcome of each agenda item compared to how involved it is in using our struggles to slowly transform us into wise, compassionate, brave, and visionary beings. I wonder if prayer works sometimes one way, and sometimes another; if there is as much mystery as there is power to prayer. I wonder. I’m sorry for those who feel manipulated by the prayer of others, and, as a local clergy, I apologize on behalf of those who do indeed use prayer manipulatively. But I’m grateful that the Council decided to contiune opening their meetings with a prayer. I wonder what we want public prayer to do, or not to do, but I hope that we will be blessed by the sincere and honest prayers of many faiths and religions. My prayer is that we all approach the idea and the practice of prayer as a great mystery that likely changes us who pray more than it changes the God we pray to, and that those who dare to address that Mystery in public might do so with awareness and respect for all its manifestations and experiences represented by those present.