Wednesday, March 04, 2009

prayer

"In worship, God imparts himself to us."
C.S.Lewis

photo by codswallop58 on flickr
photo by ...jade at flickr

photo by Arashi-San.

Sometimes there are thoughts that start to gestate in your head and your heart.If they linger long enough, I start to wonder if God has put them there and what He is trying to teach me. In addition to the concept of community,the act of prayer has been taking up space in my mind this week. Prayer means different things to different people groups. To some it is wishing, to some it's a ritual that can not be broken, to some it is a life-line. Some people inscribe their prayers on brightly colored cloth and wait for the wind to carry them off. Some people write them on little papers and tuck them between stones in the Wailing Wall of Jerusalem because it is said to be the last remnant of the Holy temple. Some lay prostrate and others just talk to God like he is their papa or an old friend. For me prayer is communion between me and Jesus. It is both talking to my loving Father and bowing humbly before my Savior King. It is worship, it is surrender, it is opening my heart like David to be washed in His grace and forgiveness, and it is a pouring out, like Mary anointing His feet, of all the love and devotion I can muster. It is an act of faith and humility like she dried His feet with her hair. It is more about the attitude of my heart than anything spoken by my lips.It is the Spirit interceding, it is a crying out in words and it is silent, listening.

I want to remember the ways God speaks to me and so for that reason I write this. Last week I was the parent helper at my kids wednesday morning pre-K at New City Fellowship. There is a time that the kids sit in a circle on little mats and sing songs and then the teacher takes prayer requests. They ask God for everything from wanting someone sick to get better, to asking God to help their brother and sister stop fighting, to asking God to make their mosquito bite stop itching. It is hard not to laugh at some of the things they think of. After everyone had shared their requests they started to pray. Suddenly every one of them bowed down, some of them prostate on the floor. A heap of little bodies all folded over their legs, faces down and heads together and all touching. As I stood there staring at this flower of children praying, I was struck with the picture of unity. God used this physical scene to speak to my heart about what I could learn from them, and how they did not hesitate to bow down together and revel in this communal act. I am not implying that these little ones understood fully the connection of the act of bowing down and the submission and adoration which it is meant to show. I was touched though, by their uninhibited enjoyment of togetherness. Unlike some other faiths that have rigorous habits of communal prayer and bowing down it seems that many of us who follow Jesus forget the power of prayer. We may speak to God throughout the day or when we need something. But how many of us disrupt our schedules and are disciplined about carving out time to talk and listen to God, and to do it with others? God used these little ones to remind me of the reverence and love I need to approach Him with, to make more time in my days to get on my knees and commune with Him both alone and with others.
this photo by Marc_p98 on flickrphoto by davidchoiii at flickr

"If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master's presence. And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back and place it again in our Lord's presence, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour will be very well employed."
~ St.Francis de Sales

5 comments:

Mama Sweetie said...

Very powerful words. Thank you.
Becky

Susan said...

Love the images and wish I could've seen those little children knotted in a flower praying. When I saw the Wailing Wall it reminded me of being there in 2000 and being sternly corrected by rabbis as I starting walking down the side that only men can enter - women on one side, men on the other. Love you, Mimi

anna j said...

Powerful indeed, dear Linda. Your thoughts remind you of what I read yesterday, as I'm reading Annie Dillard right now. I LOVE the portion where she writes "On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to their pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return . . ."
[it's in Teaching a Stone to Talk. Have you read it? If not, you should . . .]

Mom said...

Beautiful thoughts. Beautiful photos.

cat collier said...

in our prayer and faith may our father be more glorified. there is absolutely no limitation in the power of prayer and yes our thoughts leading us to prayer is the holy spirit guiding, whispering in our minds and hearts. no doubt our world has turned a blind eye to the whisper, to the sights and sounds that call us to bow and pray. indeed the power of prayer is as alive today as it was when jesus walked, we are all just a little less attuned and so the holy spirit often must shout in our ears before we turn to our father in faith and prayer. the simple act of being open to falling down before christ in prayer is a reflection of the movement being manifested in our hearts and minds. i appreciate your reflections linda and the reminder in your words.