As a child, I found the words “Pray continually” puzzling
likely because I was told that prayer happened
… at certain times of the day or week
… in a building set aside for religious purposes
… being with like-minded believers
… on knees or lying prostrate before an Altar
… speaking certain phrases from a particular book
… by people who believed in the Divine
… and was either a request for help or an expression of thanks to the Divine.
As I began to leave childhood
I wondered if prayer could be possible
when there was no opportunity to
… get to a building set aside for religious purposes
… be with like-minded believers
… pray in a particular posture
… speak certain phrases from a particular book
… worship on a Sunday or holy day.
I didn’t think I needed to be in a special building
or use a particular posture
or speak special words in a certain order
or go to church on a Sunday or appointed holy day
or be a member of a religious organization
I understood prayer was
… making art … gardening … singing … dancing
… playing an instrument … cooking … being joyful
… being physically active … being creative in all sorts of ways
… sending love to – and sharing love – with another
… even crying (Psalm 56:8)
When people say/write
… “I’ll pray about it.”
… “May I pray for you?”
… “Let’s pray for …”
what are they saying?
My understanding of prayer hasn’t changed over the years.
It’s the same understanding I had as a child.
It’s a response from the heart.
A response from the heart that can happen
… for any reason
… any way
… by any one.
… encouraging others
… communing with Nature
… being inspired – in spiritus
… being drawn into experiences of love and compassion for others
… being compassionate
being in the presence of the Holy
… however that is understood.
and is both
… simple and profound
… explicable and inexplicable.
When I understand prayer in these ways
the phrase “to pray continually” is natural
because I believe that all of life is prayer.
Prayer for me is a humbling privilege.