Pulling Yourself To Shore
I spend a great deal of time thinking and reflecting on prayer- mostly because I am still trying to figure it out.
Many years ago, I made a vow to myself and God that when I would say to someone, "I'm praying for you," I would take the time right then or shortly thereafter to actually pray for the person.
I think I came to this resolution because I felt like many people will share with someone going through a tough time that they will "remember them" in their prayers but never do.
It's like a thing that many of us say when we don't know what else to say. And sometimes we mean it at the moment because our heart goes out to the struggling person.
I didn't want to be the kind of person who offered to pray and didn't for whatever reason. So I've practiced the immediate prayer thing for several years now.
I've also come to understand some things about prayer in general, whether it's a prayer for others or for myself.
Every time I adopt an attitude of prayer and either think or say the things I'm praying about, I bend my intentions toward whatever I'm praying for. That practice also draws me closer to whatever I'm praying for and, ultimately, closer to God.
In his newest book, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, Bono, the lead singer of the band U2, had this to say about prayer:
Someone has likened prayer to being on a rough sea in a small boat with no oars. All you have is a rope, that somewhere in the distance, is attached to the port. With that rope you can pull yourself closer to God.
I absolutely loved the imagery that Bono used to describe the act of prayer. There is the notion that we have drifted from but are still tethered to the Divine. And there is also the need for action to re-establish the connection.
This is what prayer is to me: the practice of staying connected to God, even as the connection has never really been lost--no matter how far we tend to drift on our own.
So when we say a prayer, no matter what form it might take, we slowly pull ourselves back to closeness with the Divine and others.
The practice of prayer reminds us of who we are and whose we are. It also gives us a chance to become the answer to our own prayers as we tug on the rope connected to the port.
Praying helps us hear our petitions and internalize our desires and longing for answers, direction, purpose, and meaning. We realize that we have agency; we aren't helpless. We are also not adrift and alone.
May you find moments today to be re-connected with the Divine and to take courage in your acts of prayer. May it be so, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.