It’s 4 a.m. do you know who’s praying for you?
Our pastor and her husband are in New Mexico at this moment at a monastery praying “the office.” The “office” is an ancient term for prayer at set hours throughout the day. I’m not sure specifically which hours except that I know the first one scheduled in the day is 4 a.m. Neither can I say what Anne and David’s prayers will be. Prayer is so intimate. I really think prayer can be the most intimate of all acts a person can do. So I’ll probably never know exactly what their prayers are. But it’s a pretty safe bet that our congregation has been mentioned to the Creator at some point during their stay at the monastery. What a wonderful feeling.
A couple of years ago I started going to a regular prayer meeting once a week. We meet for an hour every Thursday morning at Morgan’s Mercy Mansion here in Winnsboro. The Mansion is a rehab center for women with alcohol or drug addiction. You might think that praying with addicts is different from other people but I can assure you our concerns (because I’m an alcoholic myself) are just like everyone else’s.
It’s been a good addition to my life to have a regular discipline for prayer. I was a little shy at first because I didn’t know what to expect. But after a few weeks I started looking forward to the meetings. It’s had a very calming effect on me to know that I can take my problems to this group and know that they will pray for me. I find myself telling these ladies things I don’t tell anyone else. Intimacy.
I know a woman who sings the Doxology in the morning when she wakes up. Sings it right there in bed. If her husband is still in bed beside her she sings softly so as to not wake him. But her first act upon waking is praise.
I heard a story about native Americans who would praise the Creator upon waking, then at the end of the day simply say, “Amen.” That made all their activities that day an act of prayer. I liked this idea so much that I took a permanent marker and wrote “Amen” on my pillow.
We had a Parrish Associate once who periodically walked through the sanctuary while it was empty and stopped at each pew to pray for the people who usually sat there. Likewise, we had a small group who would pray for our church each Sunday after worship. The first time I saw this group of about six with their bowed heads in a circle I thought somebody had lost a contact on the floor. Neither of these practices caught on; that is to say I don’t think anyone is doing it anymore. But who’s to say it didn’t make a difference?
When I worked in Dallas I tried using my time on the freeway as a prayer time. To no one’s surprise that never really took. LBJ freeway at 5pm may offer plenty of sitting and doing nothing time but it was distinctly not a spiritual experience for me. At another job I had when computers were first popular (Yes, I am that old) part of my job was to transmit our wire transfers. There was always about five minutes while I waited for the computer to boot up. Five whole minutes with absolutely nothing to do but wait. Perfect prayer time. I’m still a little disappointed we didn’t achieve world peace that year-- I did my part.
Now that my life is unstructured and spent among woods with birds calling to each other and frogs croaking, prayer comes easy and often. Yet we still have war, hunger, major atrocities and small inequities. I can assure you God knows how I feel. So I’m left with the answer that it’s not a science but an art. In the meantime, I just muddle through as best as I can and hope.
Beaven and I will be out of pocket next week. Our annual mission trip to Mexico was canceled because of the violence in the Reynosa area. But because our hardy group is such concrete junkies we're going to Camp Gilmont instead and doing a bunch of camp maintenance that involves pouring concrete and using cool tools. You might not hear from me next week. Pray for us.
PS: I’ve added a reading list to my website. In case you missed it go to www.JaneEls.com and look for the tab for Summer Reading List. Send me your favorite book recommendations and I’ll add them to the list.