National Library Week is almost over.
I work in a library. To be more precise, I work in a building which houses a library. I don’t actually work for or in the library proper. But I do have to pass through the library to get to my office.
And so I’ve been aware of National Library Week because of the displays that I see in the library lobby. There’s a big gift-wrapped box; I think they are raffling off some prizes.
There’s also a rack of yellow cards marked “Prayer Before an Exam — Take One.” It may seem funny to see such a display in a university library, but this is a Catholic school after all. One of the nuns on the faculty made a wisecrack about the prayer cards yesterday: “God, please bail me out at the last minute.”
Today I took one of the cards. It has a prayer on one side, and there’s a number two pencil taped to the back. The prayer appears to be taken from Prayers That Avail Much for Teens, though there’s no citation so I’m not sure. It’s kind of long — maybe 500 words. I found this passage amusing:
Father, as I enter to take this exam, I ask You to help me. Grant me wisdom and show me how to take the test, so that I gain the most points and make the best grade I can make…
Or how about this:
I will study hard and do my best. Where I come up short, I believe that You can make up the difference.
To be fair, most of the prayer is not like that. Mostly it’s about maintaining one’s confidence, studying effectively, using one’s knowledge, staying calm, working honestly, and so forth. For example, here’s a passage I really like:
Because love casts out all fear, I won’t let fear cloud or block my thinking.
Since I’m not a theist myself, I’m always a little skeptical of prayers. I can only interpret a prayer’s value in terms of the thoughts it might instill in the one who prays, rather than as a communication to a divine being. Supernatural intervention is not the main emphasis here. Instead, it aims to put the student into a good frame of mind, to create a positive attitude. I could imagine that a religious person might actually get some benefit from this meditation.