My thoughts have been on prayer this week. Prayer is imperative. Prayer is power. Prayer is the key that unlocks our communion with God. One day we will come face to face with our Creator. For me, I know I want to recognize Him. Prayer allows that. Each and every morning I offer my entire day to God. Therefore, I know that all that I do becomes a prayer to him. Then, at the end of the day I get to reflect on my failures and successes. Each day becomes like a musical note, probably not very impressive when looked at by itself. But as each day passes, the musical notes start to make a song. Furthermore, as they continue on through years of offering each day, I slowly start to see the symphony God creates, known as - my life. How pleasing this masterpiece is to our Lord when we allow Him to be the conductor.
Mother Teresa would say, "The more you pray, the more you want to pray." I have found this very true in my life. If I try my best to make my time of "sit down" prayer consistent, the more I find myself looking forward to it. When I have times of more sporadic prayer, I find it harder to discipline myself to sit in quiet. One trick I used in college was I attached prayer to a daily ritual. I usually showered at the same time every day because of my class schedule, so I would attach my prayer time to that. After my shower, I would sit and pray. The habit of showering triggered the habit of prayer for me.
I use to come to the Lord in prayer with my list. I would tell him all the concerns and prayer petitions I needed answered. This is good. He is our Father. He wants to take care of things for us, but I have begun to realize more, especially in my total emptiness during this difficult time, it is more important to try to come to him as a open vessel. I come to him and try to listen before I talk. I let him fill the empty cup of my soul with his rich, fragrant nourishment. I am not giving him my order or what I need to be filled. When I can allow him to do that on his own, I find it may not have been what I originally thought I needed. It is much more. When this occurs, then the craving of my soul of solely God is enhanced. I am being transformed. After all, He knew us before He formed us in our mother's womb (Psalm 139).
We see in the Gospels that Jesus himself prayed to the Father. Therefore, in a quick easy conclusion - if He did, I should too. If Jesus - a.k.a. God, needed to, I DEFINITELY need to as well. As a parent this is not only crucial for my own soul, but for my children as well. Christ teaches us to pray as we see when He gave us the "Our Father", or the "Lord's Prayer." We must teach our children to pray. It is not something that just simply exists in humans naturally. Just as we teach them to use a fork to eat, use the toilet, how to get dressed, we must teach them to pray too. Verbal instruction can be helpful, but showing them and being an example is best. One of the most precious memories I have is of Stella praying on her own. One night when she was about three, she had a terrible ear ache. We were up for hours. I went to use the bathroom and through the reflection of the mirror I saw her kneeling in bed and I heard her pray out loud. She said, "Jesus please help my ear." I kid you not, within half an hour, her ear felt better and she went to sleep. She woke up the next morning perfectly fine. She knew when push came to shove who to go to - her Heavenly Father. A child's prayer is so pure. That's why I know it was answered immediately.
As Stella grew she realized prayer was more than just when in dire need. She started to use this candle she received at her Atrium class at our church and she would ask me to light it. She would take it in her room and pray for a few minutes. This was so endearing to me. It was beyond needing God to "fix" something. She just would go spend a little time with him. I know there was special grace upon her. My son John is not there yet. He is still in a place of prayer when He needs God's help. It will grow I am sure of that. But I do believe, Stella was given this grace because not only would be pray together as a family and for other petitions but she consistently saw her parents spend time in quiet with our Creator. I think of the old saying "Monkey see, monkey do." It is not, "Monkey say, monkey do." This is such a gift to give to our children.
I am extremely thankful to my own parents for instilling this practice into my life from a young age. I believe it's one of the best things they did for me. (Thanks mom and dad, as I am sure you will read this.) Seeing my parents faithfulness in striving to put God first was such a testimony to me. I know prayer has been a key factor in preparation for me especially during this time of grief. The practice of daily prayer, daily unity with God prepared my heart for this trial. I knew exactly where to go when tragedy hit - right to the arms of my Father. He then lifts me right up to His most loving heart, the place I belong.