I pray. Sometimes, I systematically utter the Lord’s Prayer under my breath, barely audible, in between thoughts. At times I recite the words at the beginning or end of a thought when I just can’t put into words the happenings or emotions that accompany my existence in what I truly believe is a wonderful life. I, like many of you, experience moments of joy, pain, alone or shared, with laughter and tears. I sum up those moments to life’s long river winding and bending farther than the eye can see with twists that catch me unaware. And on the twisting path, I flow like water gathering stones, rocks, pebbles and sometimes debris only to deposit them in the course of my journey, carrying with me the sediment of lessons learned and wisdom gained. Yet, in all this splendor, I have days when the horrors of the world leave me in a conundrum. I see violence becoming run-of-the-mill mundane; I hear people becoming more self-serving. Sometimes, I fear that every ounce of coveted humanity is being lost to iniquities. But I will not allow my own anxieties to stifle the truth of my beliefs. And with each passing day my prayers seem to come often and regularly, not so much from duty, but from realizing my dependence on God in every aspect of my life.
I know prayer is not magic. It is not a guarantee against suffering. It does not make demands. I pray with conviction because I believe no matter what the circumstances, I function best when I am in relationship with God available to me through prayer. Prayer is for my benefit, not God’s.
This is what it’s like to believe: it means to be confident of much and yet to remain unsure of much. It is to know that God is real and yet it is also to wonder, frequently, what God’s purposes are. It is to be sure that prayer prayed according to the will of God will be answered, and yet to be constantly aware that neither I nor my prayers are in control of the answers. I do not have all the answers. But I know the one who does.
I pray. I pray believing that prayer can have a positive influence on the world and the people in it. I pray that we are moved beyond the limits of our humanity. That we give and love purely and without limitations. That we invite our souls to transform and heal the scars of an embattled world. Because deep inside, my heart still believes in humanity. My heart believes in a good fight against wrong, standing firm and holding onto the power from above. My heart believes in the beauty of the earth and the blessings of the Divine. My heart believes in life, its sanctity and our purpose in it. My heart believes in the all-encompassing Presence above, beneath, around and beyond, and most importantly, within. My heart believes in prayer.
This Season, what do I want most in this world. What will I ask? What will I ask in prayer from that place of within, that place of silence where I meet with the Everything that is? I pray.
That we be guided by our gifts and use them to the benefit of others. That our gifts be at work in the world as they come soaring out of our very souls and find easy expression in the things we do and love best. That we embrace them, celebrate them, use them to look after each other’s interests, to help other people be freer from pain and fear, and to contribute to the happiness of others. Because ultimately, being kind to others is being kind to yourself.