I grew up in a praying house. I remember prayers at bedtime, prayers around the dinner table, and mom praying over us at breakfast. (Sometimes I think that is because she was the only morning person at the table.) Prayer was a big part of my growing up.
I remember praying at camp. I was 10 years old and at the end of a hot summer day, a group of 15 fourth through sixth graders formed a circle and prayed aloud together. I remember hearing the voice of one of the group leaders, a college-aged girl, pray and it was the first time I had heard a female, besides my mom, pray aloud.
I remember praying in college with a journal in a quiet room. I wrote out the tumbling, confusing thoughts and hoped that God didn’t mind the run-on sentences and hanging prepositional phrases. I needed a place to just gut out all that was churning in me without careful editing. They were messy prayers but they were honest.
I remember praying over my growing belly. I begged for health and vitality and spiritual depth. They were desperate prayers, born of fear and dependent on grace.
I remember the day when I realized that I had run out of words to pray.
I wondered if that meant that I had never really had faith or if I had never really learned to pray. I remember looking back through years of prayer journaling and feeling embarrassed at my naiveté.
I remember the day when I found my anger in prayer and it would no longer be hushed. The tears were hot on my cheeks and accusations flew from my tongue. When bitterness cracked open, years of hurt flowed out and I stopped trying to hold it all in.
I remember the day when art was first prayer. As I colored in the lines of someone else’s form, my heart grew light again. I felt my fingers praying as they chose strokes and shades.
I remember the day when I discovered that silence had long been my native prayer language. It was as if my eyes opened for the first time in the room of my heart where I had been meeting with God for years. There were posters on the walls recalling moments of intimacy we had shared. There was a soft love seat that was well-worn in all the right spaces, showing where the two of us had spent hours together.
It seems that I have spent a good deal of my life praying. And now, I spend a great part of my work life helping others pray. I wonder about you.
- How do you pray?
- Where did you learn it?
- Does your prayer feel alive right now?
- What do you want to know about prayer?
We’ll spend our next bit of time together talking about prayer; I’m not sure how long this series will be. But, please, chime in on this conversation…