thinking woman

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For  some reason, I am being directed to talk about prayer this morning. Perhaps it is because I asked God yesterday to help me understand why my evergreen Cypress was dying. After consulting additional sources yesterday I found out that a man who is in landscaping told a friend of mine that the severe stress of a hard freeze followed by a severe drought was more prolonged stress than many trees could handle.  He added that as a result we would see a lot of trees die this summer—-that the Cypresses would be the first to go. God answered my prayer with additional knowledge which was a very strong reminder that stress prolonged over time can “bring down” even the strongest of us—-especially if we put up “barriers of ice” to keep out His spirit or go for long periods without being in daily contact with Him (drought).

Therefore, daily contact with God is essential for life. Prayer and meditation have traditionally been our way of accomplishing this.  I have been learning this past year that there are many more ways of meditating and praying than I first realized. I am a novice in this area, but I will share with you some of what I have learned in my “prayer lessons.”

Here is how Richard Rohr (2009, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics Do, p.23) defines prayer: “I use ‘prayer’ as the umbrella word for any interior journeys or practices that allow you to experience faith, hope, and love within yourself. It is not a technique for getting things, a pious exercise that somehow makes God happy, or a requirement for entry into heaven. It is much more like practicing heaven now.”  For me, this is a new way of looking at prayer.

Using this definition of prayer to examine my “Cypress Tree Prayer” of yesterday, it was not a prayer because it asked God for a specific thing (understanding). However, my prayer was a prayer in that it was an internal means of connecting with God’s love which gave me  hope and faith that I would eventually understand why the tree was dying.  The outcome of my “prayer” was God gave me access to knowledge that helped me view my tree’s death as a result of the “natural order of things” and helped me understand what was causing the tree’s death and to accept its death.

Immediately, my mind started analyzing Rohr’s definition.  What about all those prayers we say out loud together in meetings and in church? The answer that came was this: if I am not “present” in those prayers internally with my heart and soul. When that happens I am not praying; I am just automatically mouthing words.

Next, I started wondering about the countless ways I take “interior journeys” with my thoughts, and I realized, in the context of Rohr’s definition, I am praying often—-and most of the time am unaware of it. My prayers of this sort are not begun with a salutation.  God knows my mind is “talking” with Him. For example, if I look out at the night-time sky and view a gorgeous full moon and twinkling stars too numerous to count and automatically think how lucky I am to be part of God’s universe and how grateful I am to be part of His creation—-that is a prayer. But if I am driving along and someone pulls unexpectedly in front of me and I frantically apply brakes while thinking, “You *&%/?!*,  where did you learn to drive?—-well, then, that is not a prayer.

I have always believed God as I view Him or Her knows what I am thinking all the time anyway—- God knows my interior, the internal me, even better than I do. So what makes my thoughts prayers is when they create or support, faith, hope, and love within my heart. I am going to have to think about this for a while (God will be listening), but I think I am going to like this way of looking at prayer.

What are your thoughts about prayer? Please comment. God bless and keep you.