It May NotBe a Matter Of “How”-
Over the years, I’ve tried about every way known. I’ve bought devotional books, breviaries (guides for psalms and prayers for the canonical hours), and more devotional books. I’ve tried centering prayer, contemplative prayer, Ignatian prayer, spontaneous prayer. I’ve read books on prayer, essays on prayer, and sermons on prayer. I’ve tried praying “the hours,” tried praying first thing in the morning, tried praying while walking, tried praying before going to sleep (that especially doesn’t work too well). I have been an advocate for printed prayer and praying the ancient prayers of the church, while admiring those (like my father) for whom prayer seems simply to come and for whom the words are never far away.
And I always feel like a beginner, taking comfort in the saying attributed to St. Benedict that “always we begin again.”
I am aware that I do not pray or approach prayer now the same way I did when I was younger. That’s as it should be, I suspect. I don’t wear the same clothes I did then, either (mercifully!). On the other hand, at one of the most critical moments of my life, when I should have been offering supplication for myself as I was waiting for a surgery that would be life-changing no matter what happened, all I could think to pray was “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep….” I realized later it was the perfect prayer for that moment – and just the right amount of child-like faith.
What occurs to me now in my “late middle years” is that what matters about prayer may not be the “how.” It may not even be the “what” or “when” of prayer. What matters is the “that,” as in “it matters that you pray.” It matters that you are in a conversational and intimate relationship with God that transcends methodologies and language and style. What matters is prayer itself.
This Sunday, as we continue to explore journeying “By Another Way,” we’ll look at the Way of Prayer. We will hear Paul remind us in Philippians (Philippians 4:4-7) that we should offer everything to God in prayer and we will hear Jesus (Matthew 6:5-13) teach us about prayer and offer us a model for prayer (or is it a model prayer?). As always, we’ll reflect on what that means for us as disciples of Jesus.
I hope to see you Sunday. Please know that whatever technique I am using, I pray for you, for FUMCC, and for our ministry together.
Grace and peace.