Startled and Amazed By Prayer
During this first week of Epiphany, I have been focused a bit more on some of the practices that help me keep from running dry, spiritually speaking.
Daily Prayer is one of the trickier of those practices because there never seems to be any real rhyme or reason to the way that I pray. As I've mentioned here before, I often feel like I'm doing it wrong.
I don't bow my head and close my eyes... I don't kneel by my bed or a chair... I don't have a particular agenda either, like so many Christians seem to have...
I also don't follow any real patterns, unless I'm praying something like the Lord's Prayer or a written prayer that I've found that strikes my fancy. And I have to admit that there are times I feel like I'm kind of going through the motions with those.
It's easy to let go of prayer as a daily habit when you struggle with knowing what form it should take, how long to pray, what go say... I know I've felt that same temptation.
But then I ran across this little line from author Justin McRoberts the other day, and it gave me so much encouragement along those lines:
The essence of prayer is the love of God, not our ability to pray.Talk about an epiphany! When I stop caring so much about whether I'm praying "rightly," and simply focus on the fact that I'm doing everything I can in those moments just to keep company with God... it changes everything.
Because then the act of prayer becomes less like a chore or something I'm doing out of duty, or obligation. Prayer then can become a conversation and connection.
It doesn't have to be friendly or congenial either. If I am deeply engaged with the Divine in conversation, that conversation can become something deeper, too. I can open up to my fears, anger, doubts and cares without feeling as though I'm somehow offending God.
And as to how long I pray... that is open-ended as well. Fr. Richard Rohr once wrote:
People often ask me, "How long should I pray each day?" I usually answer, "As long as it takes to get rid of the junk."I love that. Sometimes there's a lot of junk that needs to get unloaded and it might take a while to figure that out---maybe a few days or even weeks. I've had conversations with God that have lasted months.
The point is, we keep coming back to it until there's some kind of resolution--either within us or without us, it doesn't matter. Because sometimes the change that needs to happen for us to find peace needs to begin with us.
During this Season of Wonder, find ways to renew your prayer life. Stop worrying about how you are doing it, and simply begin. Focus on God, and your connection with the Divine all around you and in you.
And prepare to be startled and amazed.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.