I write to you reluctantly about the issue of prayer, although I don’t know why I am reluctant. You are my friend, and part of friendship is that wonderful ability to confide in a friend even our darkest thoughts and secrets. Today’s subject is not about some obscure secret in my past. No, I am hesitant, I guess, because I still am working on the subject, and this is one subject, I struggle with constantly. Prayer is one of those areas where I struggle for clarity, and practice it poorly. My struggle is not new, I grappled with the “right words” as a child. My prayers were erratic and often silly as I struggled with puberty, social acceptance, and sports outcomes. Later, my prayers were poor attempts to be meaningful during my “coming of age” in the time of social upheaval including the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement in my native South. My prayer efforts seemed desperate and only self-serving when I went through all the difficulties and torture during the 90’s. My prayer life often seems blurred and haphazard; much of it mere blubbering. I participated in learning Centering Prayer only to have given my priority to other “centers” that seemed more important at the time.
But as I struggle, and I will for a long time I guess, several “truisims” seem to peek around the curtain. First, there is no wrong way to pray. I search for the right way and libraries are full of books telling us how to do it, but I just have a feeling that it’s kind of like a pecan pie. There may be some ways to make it that are better than others, but they all taste pretty durn good.
Second – believe!. At times, I go through the motions of prayer never believing very strongly that anyone is listening. I mean just how many Lord’s prayers does God have to hear every day? But you need to expect he is listening otherwise that voice of doubt can drown out our voice. That voice of doubt seeks to drown out our prayers in mid-sentence. But we need to pray down that voice because they are simply the product of old hurts, griefs, failures and all that the world has done to destroy our faith. We are to believe in spite of our unbelieving. “ I believe, help my unbelief,” said the father of the sick son. Mark 9:24. This is what faith is all about which is the third “truism.”
It was faith that Jesus said cured the sick and blind. “Your faith has made you well,” It is through the faith that passes through our prayers that enables God’s power to flow, and miracles and healing can happen. Where faith is — healing happens. No power can prevent it.
The fourth “truism” is — it simply takes a lot of work. Sometimes it takes a lifetime of trying and believing. I take great solace in my belief that no matter how hard I try to get it right, and no matter how bad I think I am doing, in a way I am not. As my coach used to say, “Hubbell even you can’t screw this one up!”
Well there you have it. Tom. What do you think? My “truisms seem too simple, but they all I can conjure up today as we prepare for another Winter’s storm.
Your friend, Webb
PS: Suzy says, “ I gone from meddling to preaching.” I apologized, but she says it’s time to lighten up. W.
This is one of the best homilies you’ve written, in my humble opinion. I think we all struggle with prayer, if we admit it.You have admitted it. That makes it much easier for me to admit my own failures in this department.
Thank you for your kind words and support. They mean a great deal coming from you dear friend. W
I respectfully disagree with Suzy, and enjoy a little preaching.