10/15/11 What Images Does The Word Prayer Convey To You?

Image by mojoey via Flickr

I started to write this post about the week I’ve had and how it ended with me resorting to prayer and soul searching. In doing so, I looked at the picture gallery for a photo to go with it. What an illuminating experience that turned out to be. Putting search words in such as “prayer”, “‘praying”, “prayerful” produced many photos of people praying, but it was interesting to me that they all appeared to live on the other side of the world. Then there were the multitude of photos showing statues, buildings, candles and flames, centuries-old paintings of pious people looking serenely toward Heaven.



I didn’t see any photos that looked remotely like me. Or resembled the settings I usually pray in.
Which got me to wondering? Where do you pray and how do you look when you do so?
Are you on your knees with head bowed? Standing? Hands clasped? Is it a prayer of your own words or is it a corporate prayer said in unison with the rest of your church? What images come to your mind when the word “prayer” is mentioned? Is prayer something that brings you closer to God? Or do you shy away from it, fearing you may not know how to pray correctly or that you won’t know what to say?
There are no right or wrong answers. I can share with you that I am a person who prays often. Some prayers are quick, some are whispered when I’m looking for strength or self restraint. Praying for others does not come naturally to me. I honestly will pray for folks or situations if I tell them I will, but I’m afraid I don’t seem to go beyond the basics with it; though I think I’m getting more comfortable with it as time goes on.
I remember feeling absolute mortal TERROR whenever I thought someone might ask me to pray out loud in a group. ME?? Miss Never At A Loss For Words would suddenly be struck dumb at the fearful notion that people would discover what a crappy job I did at praying aloud. As if there was some sort of score card to give me a grade on how I did….. did I hit the right note, sound holy enough, say “Lord” enough times. Do you see some of the ways I waste my mental minutes on Earth?
I chose the photo in this post because in the end, I do a lot of praying in my car. And no, it’s not, “Holy Crap, did you see that?” or “Jesus, Take the Wheel”.  I pray for grace, mercy and the ability to go through the day not being a total schmuck to everyone I encounter. When I’m feeling scared, lonely, or in some kind of crazy wicked pain, my car is where I rant and rave to God, asking Him to help me make sense of it all.
My favorite places to pray are in my quiet room at home, with the windows open so that I can hear the birds. I imagine God’s there with me, sharing a cup of coffee. I love to pray in nature settings. I pray while I’m doing dishes, looking out my kitchen window at the woods behind my house.  I try to remember to say prayers of gratitude for enjoying more blessngs than any one person deserves. I pray in the bathroom at work, thanking God for a job I love and where I get to be myself. That is such a luxury. 🙂
Oddly enough, I don’t seem to pray so well at church. It’s like, my mind knows I’m supposed to be praying, so my brain wanders all over the planet. If I haven’t eaten, I listen to my stomach rumble. If I’ve been drinking coffee, I ruminate on how awful my breath probably is and I pop a piece of gum in, before the service is over, so that I don’t knock anyone over if they come up to speak to me after church. I am not proud to admit this. I see the most amazing prayer warriors at my church, Vineyard Westside. These lovely people make themselves available up front after each service for anyone desiring or needing prayer. I ventured up there tonight. I don’t like to ask for prayer, as I imagine that what I want prayer for will sound silly or worse yet, people will find out my life is not perfect. What a dope I can be. It was so comforting to share my request with two of the ladies and have them pray for me. I cried like a baby. I think I was crying on the outside. I had my eyes closed. I know I was weeping on the inside. Maybe some of it is just being willing to be vulnerable and ask for help. Afterward, I felt such a peace that has been eluding me lately.
I would love to hear about your thoughts on prayer and the images that word brings to mind.

9/16/11 Sometimes The Serenity Prayer Is All I’ve Got

Sometimes an acquaintance I call “Pain” comes knocking and The Serenity Prayer is all I’ve got to answer it with. Pain can visit for a moment or it can stay for years. This is one of those times. There is a person I love very much who’s chosen a life of drugs. If you’re fortunate enough to not know anyone who’s destroyed their life in this way, then this blog may not speak to you.

If you do know the living hell for the friends and family of a person who has chosen this path, then please bare with me while I do an open share.

I do not know what to do with this pain today. It’s nearly unmanageable. It seems like an oxymoron to say I’m feeling completely numb, but that’s how it is.

I’m not sure why I’m writing. Maybe because Pain is silently screaming out of my pores, making my eyes leak tears, it’s so hard to breathe and my heart feels twice as heavy as it physically is.

I can not choose another person’s actions. I can offer love, drive them to meetings and church; believe them over and over when they tell me they’re sober.  Never mind that the words sound like the practiced speech of a parrot; their hollow face and stranger’s eyes tell me I don’t have a clue that I no longer know this person.

I naively thought in the past that because I had issues with eating and excess weight, I could somehow understand their plight. No, I do not. Food never cost me my family, multiple jobs, a place to live, trips to jail and the ER. Food didn’t turn me into a liar. Well, maybe I shouldn’t be so quick on that one. The last words weren’t a judgement on someone. They’re a: “I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY YOU DO WHAT YOU DO.”

This person is in intensive care as I write this. The memories of the person I used to hang out with and swore I loved unconditionally collide with the zombie who’s taken over my loved one.

I don’t know what to do. I reach for my serenity coin and repeat:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.