Happy Sunday to you. It is warm and mild here in the Boston area, about 55 degrees and mostly sunny. Green shoots are springing up all around our neighborhood, poking their eager heads through the rich, brown soil.
I took the above photos at church today (Grace Chapel, Lexington). They were a part of Pastor Bryan Wilkerson’s sermon about the power and importance of prayer that Jesus teaches us in Luke. The overarching message was that prayer between an individual and God can be very personal. It can help an individual to follow guidelines such as the one shown above, if an individual doesn’t know where to start, or wants to cover various points in his or her prayer. But most importantly, the experience of prayer is about the relationship one is developing with God and Jesus Christ. It’s the personal conversation one is having, that deepens our relationship.
I have prayed throughout my life, and remember praying at bedtime as a young child and throughout my life, often reciting the “Lord’s Prayer” but also praying to God in my journal, since writing is something I enjoy.
Today, I find myself in prayer a lot of the time, and I love it. The experience of praying comes in so many forms for me now. For example, I recite mantras and prayers on my drive to work every single morning, and sometimes on my commute home, as well. I have a hand-held recorder that I pre-record my prayers and mantras on, and then I push play and recite along. This is helpful for me, because I am not naturally an “auditory” first person, so while I’m driving, it helps to hear my own voice on the recorder prompting me. I feel a direct connection with God during these times, and it’s a great way to “bookend” my workday.
I also find myself praying at meals, particularly dinnertime with my husband. He and I alternate praying at dinner, and sometimes we bring in text to read aloud along with our personal prayer. We pray together about things like our marriage, our family, our home, our jobs, the well being of others, nature, and the planet, personal guidance, and for the food we get to eat.
Another place I find myself praying is on the phone with my friends from church. We support each other throughout the week through texts and phone calls, which often involve prayers together and for each other–sometimes as short as 5 minutes and other times as long at 35 minutes. Being a part of various church groups over the past 2 years has helped me meet and develop these wonderful, enriching friendships. Pastor Sheryl Lackey of Grace Chapel reminded me about the power of encouragement in her Joy Bible sermon given to our women’s group on Tuesday night last week. She said that encouragement can have a deep impact in someone’s life. I think that praying encouragement with another person can turn their entire day around-I know that is true for me, both as the one praying or as the recipient. It is huge!
We also pray at church during services (usually these prayers are led by our pastor, an elder, a speaker, or our worship leader) and after church sometimes with volunteers who will pray with you about anything that is on your mind or in your heart, in the chapel. Finally, I find myself in prayer in my journal or in meditation, in yoga class, when I’m running to train for the half-marathon I’m doing this spring, or at different times such as when I’m falling asleep or passing a car accident.
I share all of these examples with you to give you a window into what my personal prayer experience is like. It fills me with vibrancy, with strength, and with heart. I feel reminded of God’s presence and Jesus’ pure unending love and forgiveness for me, and for all of us. It is strengthening to be reminded of this, especially during challenges throughout the day or moments of awe and appreciation.
We all have challenges, and we can all have hope. We can take a moment to savor our blessings, and as a result, to feel them more deeply. Stopping to pray is sometimes like pulling your car off to the side of the road, as Pastor Bryan Wilkerson explained today. We can certainly pray while we’re driving, too, and we may not even WANT to pull off or take a detour, but that is what God calls us to do sometimes. And taking the time to pray and connect with God can make all the difference between making a positive decision or a negative one. I know it is hardest for me to stop and pray when I need it the most: when I’m not feeling well or busy and overworked. I loved today’s sermon because it reinvigorated my desire to keep praying, and reminded me of all the benefits.
So, feel free to slow down. Take the time to sing your praise, ask God for help, or simply have a conversation with Him. He’s there for you, and He is available anytime.
Blessings and love,
Penny helps Mama write her blog, A Sparkly Bit of Everything. 🙂