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Gary's Faith Walk

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On prayer

I’ve been praying more lately. And, I know exactly where that urge has come from. There is something about the knitting together of a new life inside our daughter-in-law that brings me to pray. I powerfully want this little one to enter the world healthy, to be loved, and to love.

This is not, of course, the first time I have prayed so fervently. I prayed so for the release of my father as I held his hand by a hospital bed in his final hours. I’ve prayed that the Lord might soften the hearts of men whom the world saw as tyrants—Saddam Hussein comes to mind. And I have prayed in advance of U.S. national elections that the Lord would lift up the person most capable of leading our nation into a new era of peace and justice.

Sometimes my prayers burst out in near shouts of joy and praise. On blue-bird days, two thirds up the quad at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, I’ve twisted left in the chair to behold the extraordinary beauty of the sky, the lake, the mountains, and the snow. Prayers of thankfulness burst out. And on quiet cloudless nights in our North Country it is hard not to stand in awe of creation and utter a silent prayer as the mantle of stars hovers overhead and a meteoroid streaks past.

Like many of us, I pay special attention to the Lord’s Prayer or Our Father taught to the disciples by Jesus. In my time abroad, I have worshipped with others who gave voice to this prayer in Russian, Polish, Czech, German, and Korean. But of all the ways this prayer has been lifted heavenward, the prayer which touched me most was spoken by a sister from Syria. She prayed the Lord’s prayer in Aramaic—the common language which Jesus spoke. The connection was powerful!

Sister Joan Chittister, a courageous Christian voice in these challenging times and my sometimes spiritual guide, shares these thoughts. “Prayer makes us aware of the elements of the divine in human life, bringing us into contact with the God-life in and around us... . Prayer is the act of beginning the process of becoming one with the One we seek—eventually, melting into God completely.” 

In my self-created busy life, how often am I aware of the image of God in those around me? How often am I silent amidst the wonders of creation? How willing am I to beat back the popular demands of technology (more email, another Facebook post, a text message) to be more contemplative? How willing am I to forego listening to another news broadcast or scanning the daily headlines to create space for quiet reflection?

Have I got this prayer thing down? No. Am I working on it? Yes. In my faith walk, prayer is an essential element as I seek to be in relationship with God. I think, however, that Sister Joan has it right. Prayer is “the act of beginning the process…” But, so much more is required: reading Scripture, silent reflection, corporate worship, reading of or speaking with others on the same journey, and living the faithful life—not just pondering it. As always, the walk continues this late winter day.

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Author info

Gary Payton Gary Payton is on a Faith Walk that takes him to Russia, Eastern Europe and Sandpoint, Idaho

Tagged as:

prayer, Our Father, The Lord's Prayer

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