January 24, 2024
Years ago, Harry Emerson Fosdick wrote in his work, The Manhood of the Master, “The Master prayed as naturally as a sleeping child breathes.” The more I pray, the more I like that phrase. To me it represents the description of how our prayer should be.
Over the years I have both received and dispensed advice on how to pray. You have probably heard the same wisdom time after time: Find a quiet place and a tranquil time. Put on soft music if it helps you relax. A lit candle can be a focal point. Religious icons can be of use. Keep a Bible handy. Turn off your phone and/or pager if you are thus afflicted. Open your mind and listen more than beating your gums toward heaven. Feel free to pray for miracles but not so much that you expect them. Expectations and the realizations thereof should be left to God. The list goes on and on.
Sometimes I feel that we are guilty of “arranging our encounter” with God. We get everything just right and then wait for God to “show up.” Perhaps it is a minor miracle that sometimes God does!
Then, again, God is sovereign and we do well to remember that our encounters with the Almighty come according to God’s schedule rather than at the behest of our preparations.
I am finding that I am more and more aware of God’s presence in all the moments of my life. It is not something I prepared nor was prepared for. It just happened. The closest image I can share, imperfect as it may be, is that God is always near and always engaged with me. Prayer, then, becomes as natural as conversation with a dear friend who is sitting in close proximity. And, at times, there is no conversation. Just the quiet sharing of common space.
Perhaps this is what St. Paul meant when he said, “Pray always.” (I Thessalonians 5: 17) To my way of thinking, prayer in this sense is a constant awareness of God’s presence in our lives and an openness to His guiding.
Of course, maybe it’s just me, but it seems to surround me with a lot of peace and joy!
I bid you peace!