The True Power Of Prayer
The other day I texted a friend who had a medical procedure and told her I was praying for her.
In fact, I did pause after sending it and bent my thoughts toward my friend, remembering times we spent together, thinking about things she said, and praying that she had prayed over me more than once.
I didn't say a prayer, to be exact, but I imagined her being fine, made whole, healed. I never said, "Dear God," or petitioned the Almighty on behalf of my friend; instead, I did my best to simply be at peace, sit quietly and think of her.
God was at the heart of whatever I was thinking, though. I knew and felt it, which was enough at the moment. I believed that I had a connection with the Divine Spirit that connects us all, and I imagined my friend feeling the energy of that connection.
Prayer is such a fascinating thing for me. I've prayed in all kinds of ways throughout my life. Writer Anne Lamott says we tend to pray in three kinds: "Help! Thanks! and Wow!" I've prayed all those prayers at some point, and I imagine you have too.
The thing about prayer is that you can't do it wrong. Any time you bend your thoughts toward someone or yourself concerning the Divine, no matter what form it takes, you enter a unique moment in your relationship with God.
That moment is when you surrender---even if it's only for a moment--the outcomes of whatever it is you are praying for to God's will and way. You let go of your need for control and give the thing to God for safekeeping.
It's a beautiful thing to pray to God. When we do, we open ourselves up, become vulnerable, more able to receive grace and peace and experience the love of God for us.
The Christian mystic Thomas Merton said this about the power of prayer:
All true prayer somehow confesses our absolute dependence on God. It is therefore a deep and vital contact with Him... It is when we pray that we really are.
There's something so beautiful about that last line, isn't there? When I first read it, I felt a shiver of excitement. I wasn't sure at the time what it truly meant, but I knew that it resonated with me at some level.
It is when we pray that we really are.
I am beginning to understand that the power of prayer lies in that very idea of becoming who we really are when we pray.
The very act of surrendering our need for control, even for a moment, is one of the most important things we can do to connect with our true selves and the Divine all around us and within us.
The form our prayers take is secondary to the action of prayer itself. When we bend our thoughts away from ourselves and toward God, we let go of our ego, acknowledging our connectedness with God and others.
And we find ourselves again.
When we pray, we can listen to our own longings, desires, fears, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes we hear ourselves say the words out loud, which has its own kind of power.
There are also moments when we pray that we realize we are the answers to our prayers.
We might feel a nudge to do something, to take action, or to speak words of life to someone. We can feel empowered to do what we can to change our circumstances or find the courage to come alongside someone in need.
In my opinion, this kind of energizing effect is directly related to being connected to the Divine, led by the Spirit, or however you might describe it. Our willingness to surrender opens us up to the power of God within us.
May you find in your prayers a true connectedness with God. May you discover who you really are as you pray.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.