Many thanks to Cynthia Hobbie for this thoughtful reflection on prayer.
Prayer, an Enigma
For years I have struggled to understand what prayer is, where it comes from and where it goes. Is it an anguished cry in a moment of frustration or deep insecurity? Is worrying a prayer? Is it that breathlessness that comes when one is looking at a beautiful piece of art or listening to music? Is it sharing a moment of laughter with someone you love? What does saying the “Lord’s Prayer” with others in worship mean? What does it mean when someone says they will pray for you? I have approached the meaning of prayer and circled around it, but honestly, I just don’t get it.
I have been reading “An Altar in the World, a Geography of Faith” by Barbara Brown Taylor. There is a passage in the book about prayer, which I found meaningful. I would like to share it with you.
“Brother David was the first person to tell me that prayer is not the same thing as prayers. Prayers are important, he said. Saying Psalms in the morning is a good way to head into the day more prayerfully. So is going to church, where I can add my voice to those of a whole congregation aiming to woo God’s ears with their ancient, beautiful cadences. Still, prayer, is more than saying prayers at set times. Prayer, according to Brother David, is waking up to the presence of God no matter where I am or what I am doing. When I am fully alert to whatever or whoever is right in front of me; when I am electrically aware of the tremendous gift of being alive; when I am able to give myself wholly to the moment that I am in, then I am in prayer. Prayer is happening, and I am lucky enough to know that I am in the Midst.”
Although I have no delusions about wooing God’s ear, this definition of prayer makes sense to me. I don’t have to ask for anything and can just feel thankful. Perhaps I am getting closer.