The spiritual life offers copious instructions on prayer. We’re told to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16), to give thanks as we pray (John 11:42), to ask and we shall receive (Matthew 7:7), and to trust because God already knows what we want (Luke 12).
Yet, sometimes we believe that we’re too busy to pray, or that if God already knows what we need, there’s no reason to bother. Sometimes we don’t believe in the prayer process, or worse, we don’t believe that we truly deserve our heart’s desires. And sometimes, when life is swirling around us or a circumstance appears dire, we may doubt that God remembers us. We think that God needs reminding, not only of what we want, but also that we’re here.
This is exactly when we need the reminder: Prayer does not change God. Prayer changes us. Prayer reminds us:
- We are God’s beloved creations.
- God’s unconditional love and infinite compassion continually enfold us.
- God’s ever-abiding grace is always available, the moment we choose to align with life.
- Wherever two or more are gathered (Matthew 18:20), we share in feeling God’s presence both with us and within us.
I experienced all this earlier in the summer during a doctor visit to determine the cause of a persistent cough (later diagnosed as a bronchial infection). The nurse who assisted me had the gentle, warm demeanor of one who’s offered loving service for many years. As she gathered all the necessary information, the conversation turned to my work. And, as sometimes happens when I say what I do, she expressed awe about my calling, as if I am somehow closer to God than she is.
As the appointment ended, she tensed, staring at the ground. Then she looked up and asked, “Would you pray for my mother and me? She’s been ill, and I need to move her to assisted living.”
I said I would. Then I asked, “Would you like to pray together right now?”
She exhaled a deep, “Yes,” her shoulders slumping toward me as I took her hands in mine. Then we prayed, as I spoke words of assurance for her mother’s healing and ease in the moving process, as well as for their peace of mind.
When we concluded, she thanked me and squeezed my hands.
I reminded her of God’s love and said, “I hope the prayer helps you feel better.”
She hugged me quickly and brushed away a tear. “It does,” she smiled. “You feel better, too.”
And, despite the cough, I did feel better. Even more, I felt grateful for another moment of divine connection, remembering that anytime, anywhere, we can feel and behold God in everyone and in everything. Then, we can choose our next best steps as the journey continues.
© 2017 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks. All rights reserved.