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FAITHFUL LIVING: Consider what would happen if everyone prayed
I lit a candle one evening this week when feelings of frustration threatened to overwhelm my sunny summertime outlook on life. I dislike those moments, for they sometimes counteract the energy I gain from our long, moderately warm summer days here in the Pacific Northwest. As I stood there watching the flame and enjoying the gentle pick-me-up that came from smelling the scent of lavender drift up from the dresser in my bedroom, I thought about how frustrated I sometimes feel living far away from people I love and care about.
I had hoped for a family reunion of sorts this summer, but it appears this is not to be. Two families own their own businesses and cannot be pulled away at this time. There are cousins with summer schedules that include camps, horse shows and mission trips. One set of grandparents are moving out of the house they have called home for 35 years. The thought of taking a trip away from their new home after sorting through and moving a lifetime of belongings did not sound appealing in the least. I cannot blame them.
As much as I completely understand that a reunion must wait for another summer, I am reminded that as my own children continue to grow and change, enjoying their teen and pre-teen years by seeking greater independence, I am entering middle-age and experiencing all that comes with those years. For the first time in years I am able to look past those intense moment-by moment experiences of a young family and really see what is going on outside the walls of our house. This happens when your kids dress and bathe themselves, help with the laundry and drive themselves to town to satisfy a sudden hunger for ice cream.
I find that I, on the other hand, want to re-establish extended family and friend connections that received too little attending during the last few years we were building our household. With greater frequency I imagine myself sitting around a table and socializing with brothers, sisters and childhood friends while our children casually hang out together and compare their lives and experiences. I am wanting to retell an old story or two, cook together, watch rented movies, take walks and hug a few necks laying a path for the day (still some years away, thank goodness!) when our children are establishing lives away from us and we remain to once again fashion our lives without them.
When I consider such scenarios I pray like crazy because prayer is the most consistent connection I have with everyone. It tells those I love that while we might have to postpone a get-together for another summer, they are always worth my time. It also acknowledges to God that I want His presence felt in the lives of those I care about. It reveals my trust that He hears and responds to my words. It offers praise because of all the things I have seen that could not have possibly been orchestrated by humans. It places into action a foundational belief that God is living and working among us all.
Prayer is different from meditation a word I hear bantered about and intermixed with conversations about prayer these days because it is perceived by some to be politically correct and perhaps more palatable. When we take the time to pray, to communicate with God, we are tapping into His wisdom, strength, and power. We are acknowledging that there is not enough personal strength or insight to regularly act without Him. We are seeking interaction with the same God who created the universe and each one of us.
In prayer you can be yourself. If you are feeling intimidated, sad or angry, give words to those feelings or think back to the prayers you learned as a child. Recite the Lords prayer. Read the prayers written in Psalms. Make a quick mental check: Have I covered the bases that frequently include praise, thanksgiving and confession?
I can always pray with ease when I listen to music and that may be in the car, a restaurant or walking down a grocery aisle. Move past the idea that you must always be sitting with hands folded and eyes closed.
The Bible talks at great length about the amazing experiences families, communities even nations will witness if only they will pray together on a regular basis. Imagine what would happen between families and around our community if we were to become a praying people in 2002!
Joan Bay Klope is a freelance writer and former editor of Christian books. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org