Not your Grandma’s Prayer
The disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.” We are still asking for help in this! I believe there is a deep longing in most (if not all) of us to connect to something/someone greater that ourselves – a deep, universal consciousness, who is our source of existence and who sustains us in life. Many of us call this source God. And we want to be connected – to be fed, accepted, and yes, loved.
Christians call this connection prayer. And we have a million books of advice about it – most of whom aren’t all that helpful, if you ask me. So I approach the topic with fear and trembling. What can I offer about prayer that will be better than other sources of wisdom?
All I have is my own experience – rather inconsistent, and sometimes quite feeble. One of the greatest gifts I’ve received in my Christian life came from my mother, who used to rise early and spend 20 minutes or so sitting quietly in prayer. She used a book of prayers, laid out for a month. And she invited me to join her when I was a child, perhaps 8 years old. She used words – some beautiful poetry and prayers I can still recall well. But she also used abundant silence – stillness – and that sticks with me. She showed me that prayer is far more than words. It is a state of quietness, of expectation, of resting in God.
As I have aged, many of the words of prayer have less meaning for me, but the silence, the stillness, the waiting still resonate. It seems that, when we can clear away most of the detritus from our minds and hearts, God is there - waiting for us.
Blaise Paschal said, “All humanity’s problems stem from a person’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” While that may be a bit of hyperbole, he’s got a point.
So this Sunday we’ll talk about prayer – not the lists of requests and “God bless Uncle John” prayers you may have been taught as a child (although those can be useful). I speak more about a state of communion with the one who made us and knows us completely…and loves us just the same. Prayer is a safe, reassuring, calm place to abide with God. It is a strengthening, uplifting experience. Prayer is a gift God wants to give us. JBM