Friday, October 30, 2015

Prayer



I've been thinking about this post for a long time. Or maybe putting it off might be more accurate. 

Prayer is such a personal thing. And something I have never begun to understand. Other than the above quote, which somehow makes sense to me, I'm not sure what I think about prayer. Which is probably why I've never done bedtime prayers with my kids and little more than the annual Thanksgiving prayer-ish thing of going around and saying what you are thankful for before digging into a meal.

I was taken aback a few months ago when a well-meaning church friend approached me about my youngest son's lack of knowledge about prayer. The other children were shocked, apparently. I didn't worry too much. I already know I'm no supermom and have a somewhat unconventional approach to the whole parenting thing, based in humor, individual choice, respect, and incessant nagging through which I am working out my own insecurities and perceived failures.

Which brings me back to my recent thoughts about prayer. What is it? How are you supposed to do it? Do you ask for stuff and consider your prayers answered if you get what you ordered?

Is it way more complicated than that? Or way simpler? Is it, "Thy will be done"? Is it not being afraid to pray big and having confidence you'll receive the needed (demanded) answer? Is it just being silent and listening? Is it fear in times of desperation? Groaning? Anger? Thanks in times of joy? Awe in moments of overwhelming beauty?

Is it formal or informal? Is it something you set aside time for or something purely spontaneous? All of the above? Or none of it?

And is it any wonder I have no confidence in my ability to impart any sort of wisdom or guidance to my children in this area?

I do it. Often. When I need to be reminded of my place in the world. That I am a tiny speck in the universe, yet God is familiar with every hair on my head and mindful of the fall of the sparrow. When I need to remember that I am not all-knowing or all-powerful. That I am not in charge. When I am overwhelmed by grace. When I am grateful for something simple and small that contains everything that matters. When I am trying to find my way in the dark yet am certain I am not alone. When I need guidance and the strength to act.

Prayer is so very personal. A mystery. I would have no idea how to have that conversation with my kids. I can't reduce it to, "Now I lay me down to sleep..." or "God is great and God is good..." or even the Lord's Prayer or the Hail, Mary that my sweet mom taught to me when I was a little girl.

I think the best I can do is wonder aloud and be open to discussion. Willing to share. Willing to listen. Ponder and reconsider. That's all I've got.

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