Monday, November 2, 2015

Day Two: What Is Prayer?

“Why must people kneel down to pray?
If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I'd do.
I'd go out into a great big field all alone
or in the deep, deep woods
and I'd look up into the sky—up—up—up—into
that lovely blue sky
that looks as if there was no end to its blueness.
And then I'd just feel a prayer.” 
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
I was about nine when I watched the lady fall to the floor--in front of everyone, at the altar of the church. The crowd of emphatic pray-ers that surrounded her didn't even seem alarmed. Big Usher Bill slid off his beige polyester jacket and laid it over her dress that had risen just above her knees. It was my first time witnessing someone slain in the Spirit. I thought about how different the whole thing was compared to Mama's tiny church. When people prayed, there seemed to be a quiet reverence--or a hesitancy to enter into the moment. I couldn't tell.  I loved sleeping over at her house on a Saturday night and going to the morning service with her and Grampie. My young mind absorbed every scene, every detail of the contrasts between congregations. I wasn't sure if it was a style thing or if there was a right and wrong way to pray.

As a teenager, I longed for Friday nights when my peers would gather arm in arm and pray aloud for one another. Our youth group shone as a stark disparity between school and church. At that time I desired real and strong prayer experience. Life was tough for kids my age and the soft-spoken prayers of the less charismatic denominations no longer held value for me. God must only be close when He can be felt, I thought.
However, it wasn't until I was much older that I began to understand that prayer is simply communication between a person and their Creator.  I always knew that, of course, but truly grasping it freed me from judging others and also freed me to pray anytime, anywhere and any way I needed. Anne of Green Gables put it well when she said she would "just feel a prayer". In times of grieving that's all I could do. In other seasons my prayers were wordier and more fluent. The Holy Spirit was teaching me to pray in ways that would touch hurting souls too.

As long as you are connecting with God, through His Son Jesus, you are praying. Jesus was our greatest example as He separated Himself to a quiet place (Matthew 14:23), but also gave us actual words we can use to commune with the Father. (Matthew 6:9-13) He pointed out those Jewish leaders who thought their lofty petitioning was the only right way, but Jesus praised the humility and anguish of a babbling woman as something beautiful. God takes us as we are, no matter where we are and however we can muster the words. Once we understand that wonderful news, we can begin to grow in prayer and become closer to the One who made us, loves us and longs to commune with us.


Camille said...

And, even when there are no words and only groanings...the Lord Himself intercedes for us! How precious it is. Prayed for you today with my girl as you embark on this series. Hugs! XOXO

Heather said...

Thank you, Camille. So many prayers whispered for you over the last couple of years from across the country!