A Prayer for the “Oilfield.”

Gov. Fallin designated Oct. 13 as the Day of Prayer for the Oilfields, so here’s my prayer.

O Lord of All things on the earth, above the earth, and in the earth,

We have heard your apostle say to the Romans that the “Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes[ with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
And so we ask for your interceding, but we don’t ask for you to miraculously endow a non-renewable resource with a reinvigorated viability. We ask instead for a revitalization of that ever-renewable resource—our hearts.
Lord, we are hurting in Oklahoma. Our myopic devotion to a single industry has caused financial distress in all quarters. Many have lost their jobs as what they have been trained to do is no longer profitable enough to sustain their families. Many are seeking a new kind of work. Our teachers aren’t paid a fraction of the value they bring to our society, and this shortfall in funding for our schools is brought on by a lack of revenue from that one industry that our elected leaders seem so entrenched in protecting, and yet is so vulnerable to global economic forces beyond their control.
Help our people see new possibilities and visions for the future. Help our young people dream dreams of new industries for our region that might diversify the revenue stream of the next generations so that we always secure the best education for our children.
Perhaps we don’t know how to pray as we ought when we see a landscape, an ecosystem, a habitat, and we call it an “oilfield,” as if the stuff under the ground determines what lives or dies on top of it. Soften and broaden our “oilfield” mentality of exploitation so that we might sense your purpose and your design when we might only see empty land. Help us hear the sighs too deep for words among those creatures which do not use words. Bend our ear to the peer evaluated words of scientists so carefully attuned to the interconnectedness of life—a mystery we cannot begin to fully comprehend. Temper our drive to exploit the land with vision of and concern for the future.
In those far reaches of wilderness where our oil companies have sought to make new “oilfields” amidst lands considered sacred or simply vital to migration patterns or other things we don’t always consider “important,” may your peace and your wisdom prevail.
We thank you for the good-hearted people who steer resources gained from the profit of oil to helping their neighbors. We are thankful for the provisions this limited resource has made in the lives of families and entrepreneurs who have bettered our society. Watch over those who work in these sometimes-dangerous environments. We are thankful for the people who have fought for the rights of Native Americans and others who have been vulnerable to being cheated out of their share of this bounty. Because we know you are a champion of the poor and marginalized, we ask that you intervene for your people in an economic system of disparity. Instead of “building bigger barns,” we would ask for the true wisdom of dispersing resources for the benefit of all.
Curb our greed, protect us from our own shortsightedness. Give us inspiration in the midst of decline and despair. Help us find a way out of this sticky mess: this damned glorious oilfield.

Amen.