Some Lenten Musings about God & Prayer, Part 4 of 4

In naming and claiming my wrestling with God – the what, the who, the where, and the when of God – I also confess my wondering about The Lord’s Prayer. Indeed, from time to time, I wonder about prayer.

Is prayer an act of believing through which we appeal to a divine power to provide that which we are unable to do for ourselves? Or is prayer a conscious, clarifying expression of our highest human hopes, our greatest ideals, our deepest desires? Or does prayer embrace both elements? Or is prayer something other, something else?

This is what I think…what I believe.

Prayer is an offering of one’s self fully and freely to the experience of life. To pray is to (allow one’s self to) be led more deeply into the truth of one’s self and of the created cosmos and, therefore, of the Creator.

Prayer, then, is less an act of speaking, using the right words and saying the right things, and more an attitude of living, of being open to life.

What kind of life? Through the lens of The Lord’s Prayer, The Disciples’ Prayer…

A life of intimate, familial relationship with the Creator of all creation: ‘Abbā’

A life that recognizes a greater, richer existence than one ever can attempt and achieve on one’s own and, in that awareness, longs to live that life: Your kingdom come…

A life that yearns for neither past nor future, but rather is so present, so alive in the moment that it seeks sustenance sufficient for that moment: Give us…daily bread…

A life self-critical, but not self-condemning, that can give and receive forgiveness and, aware of its weakness, also knows the Source of truest strength: Forgive…our sins. Do not bring us to…trial.

Amen.

© 2021 PRA

5 thoughts on “Some Lenten Musings about God & Prayer, Part 4 of 4

  1. “Prayer is an offering of one’s self fully and freely to the experience of life. To pray is to (allow one’s self to) be led more deeply into the truth of one’s self and of the created cosmos and, therefore, of the Creator.”

    Yes! Resoundingly yes! So much is subsumed and intimated by these relatively straightforward statements. In my later years I have come to know that prayer is far less an act than an attitude. Prayer has very little to do with words and particularly with petitions as such. Prayer flows from the body far more than from the mind. It arises in the the body’s ways of knowing, feeling, understanding, and longing. It is carried in the heartbeat, in the breath, and in movements and postures, in how the eyes take in our surroundings, how the ears attune to sound. Prayer is an offering of whatever innate experience is arising within us to the Source of that experience: it may express gratitude, relief, pain, desperation, deep need, curiosity, loneliness, a sense of injustice, great joy, the need to express some profound discovery… Prayer is opening a door to Whatever and Whoever comes to accompany us in our life’s events and experiences. It involves a willingness to be completely vulnerable and available to the ongoing Creation of our Selves and of the Universe in whatever particulars may touch us.

    Does this expression fit with your reading of the Lord’s Prayer? I think so, but I’m not sure. I have largely moved so far from words in the way that I pray, I have a hard time knowing anymore. In any event, thank you, Paul, for your ongoing Lenten meditations regarding prayer and the relationship with the Divine. It’s so good to have a reason to examine my own journey of prayer, which has developed largely unconsciously over the course of decades. Bringing such fundamental aspects of faith to consciousness is something that I know this season of my life is all about. You are an ongoing friend and help to me in that regard. And I bless you for it.

    Much love to you, and, as ever, gratitude,

    Karen

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  2. My dearest Karen, long ago, I dispensed with my wonderments about which one of us was the muse for the other! For, also long ago, it occurred to me that you, in thought and word and deed, have sparked so much (as much) thought and word and deed for and in me as I seem to have done and to be doing for and in you!

    You ask: “Does this expression fit with your reading of the Lord’s Prayer?” Yes, indeed, it — which, for me, reads, verily, sings as poetry — does!

    And your reflections remind me of a word once spoken to me by one of my most sage mentors: Dr. Verna Josephine Dozier. A noted biblical scholar and teacher who (I digress to add that she, in response to frequent encouragements that she seek ordination, responded out of the depths of her commitment to her lay calling, oft saying, with a whimsical-tone, “I have discerned that collars frequently restrict the flow of oxygen to the brain!”), in reply to the question, “How do you pray?” would answer, “I don’t.” I confess my shock at hearing her first say that. She explained to me, in the spirit of the Apostle Paul’s word of presenting one’s body as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12.1), that she perceived and believed that the entirety of her living — her thoughts and feelings, her intentions and actions — was her prayer.

    Amen, I said to Verna. Amen, I say to you.

    Love

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    1. Dear Paul,

      What a wonderful response. I think sometimes of the dialogue you and I have been engaged in for the past nearly five years. Examining the things that really matter and that undergird the everyday of our lives in ways that we seldom think about. (Well, you think about them, because you are a priest and I guess it comes with the territory, although I don’t know that I’ve ever known more than a couple of clergy persons who are as passionate in their desire to understand and apply that understanding to how life is lived every single day as you are.) Someday I’m going to print out some of our exchanges and put them in a booklet so that I have them at hand to muse over whenever I’m at odds with everything and everybody, including myself.

      I wish I could have known Verna. I think I would have learned a lot from her. I’m so glad she was a part of your life. And I too say “Amen” to her “not praying.” ; )

      I’m looking forward to the rest of this Lenten season and the questions you decide to explore, my friend.

      Love,

      Karen

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  3. OMG!! Part 4 was worth the wait!!!!! I just printed it out!! I ECHO EVERYTHING Karen said!! After Mom was diagnosed with Alz I prayed every day for a cure, THEN about 5 years ago right before Tim died I started praying just to find something to be grateful for each day…. to make the best of the day … with Joy….

    When I called you and Pontheolla to say that Tim wasn’t going to wake up I had just prayed thanking God for the years me & Tim had. I needed to do that so I could tell you he was dying without losing my mind.

    Thank you for this series!! It will be invaluable this Lent!

    Much love!

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  4. Karen, that you would desire to print our exchanges, so to have them at hand on which to reflect, flatters and humbles me. And, of all that you have written, the words that ring truest in the depth of my soul are these: “…whenever I’m at odds with…myself.” For, so far, I have discerned that my most difficult wrestlings of being at-odd-with are with myself, indeed, as I’m wont to say, my self.” Yet, it is in enduring this striving and struggling that I have come to a greater awareness of what life and reality and truth are for me. Yes, I have been aided, greatly, in listening to, reading about, and reflecting on the life’s pilgrimages of others. Still, to some necessary degree, as common as all we humans are, one to another, another’s journey is another’s journey. An olden friend used to say: “You can gain some wisdom from observing another cow, but, at some point, you’ve got to chew your own cud.”

    Loretta, I remember that terrible moment when you called to share word that Tim was dying. That you were able (and are able) to name and claim gratitude is a testimony to your blessed resilience. Thanks be to God for that and for you!

    Love you two, each and both, always and in all ways,
    Paul

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