A couple of months ago I decided to learn the geographic locations of each country in the world. In reality, I was endeavoring back into fifth grade geography. My desire to learn each country’s location came out of frustration. I felt irritated with myself because I did not know the exact location of countries in the news such as Serbia, Guatemala, and Myamar. After taking a few minutes each day studying my compact world atlas, I became somewhat proficient at locating each country on the world map. My testing tool continues to be a website devoted to geography: www.lizardpoint.com/fun/geoquiz/
After learning the location of each country on each continent, I wanted to retain my newfound knowledge. However, going over each continent regularly became boring. Then a thought came to mind. I can retain in my memory of each country’s location and do something positive at the same time. While I was trying to think of a non-tedious method of retain my knowledge, I remembered that the author Flannery O’Connell, when lupus had nearly drained all of her energy, read only the newspaper and the Bible. The implication of this routine is that she read about and prayed for the troubled peoples and places in the world. (News is usually troubling.)
Somehow, the memory of O’Connell’s routine translated into the idea of going over a continent or two daily praying specifically for the peoples and governments and particular circumstances in each country. This I try to do, praying for those countries in the news that are especially troubled. Praying for the countries of the world allows me to retain what I studied and to integrate what I learned to a spiritual exercise. Obviously, this is something that a grammar school child might figure out on her or his own. That it took me over sixty years to learn this might say something about my late blooming intellectual and spiritual desires. It also might say something about becoming a child of God. Now, when I locate Kenya, East Timor, Kosovo, and Sierra Lione I trust the spirit to inspires in me simple and effective prayer.