< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Living Prayer

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Living Prayer

I get an e-newsletter from Our Prayer and wanted to share (and remember) this wonderful article by Marci Alborghetti.

The last time I visited my good friend Gwen in Key West, she told me, “I’ve been pursuing peace for a long time. What I’ve finally realized is that peace isn’t something to pursue, it’s something to grow inside myself. Now I don’t have to stop whatever I’m doing to pray. I feel that every moment of my life is a prayer.”

As Gwen continued to talk, I realized that “living prayer” was more a way of life than a formal prayer. And I understood that living prayer was the next step toward complete trust.

In saying that her life was a prayer, Gwen meant that everything she did, every thought she had, every word she spoke, grew out of her sense that God was with her. Gwen’s living prayer was the result of many years of praying and searching. Those of us who haven’t yet experienced that level of prayer can at least dedicate a particular period of time to try living prayer.

The process may feel a little uncomfortable at first, but it can teach you a new way to be close to God, even if you’re not able to continue it indefinitely. However, if you do commit yourself to this kind of prayer, you may find it becoming more natural and easy every day.

It’s important to know that living prayer won’t be the answer to all your problems. Gwen’s life isn’t perfect. Like everyone else, those who practice living prayer sometimes feel down, discouraged and as if they’ve failed. But living prayer isn’t about living in a dream world where everything is exactly right. Living prayer is about living always in the presence of God.

A day of living prayer, whether expressed in words or thoughts or both, might go something like this:

* Wake up and thank God for your day, for your life. Ask for help as you face the day’s challenges. Thank God that you are able to get up and start the day. Ask His help in dealing with your aches, pains and other health problems.

* As you eat your breakfast, savor the taste even if you’re in a hurry, thanking God for food and drink. Pray for those who are hungry, and ask God to help you to help meet the needs of all of His children.

* As you begin your daily work, whether it’s at home or elsewhere, manual or mental, thank God for your colleagues and family members, even those who irritate or frustrate you. If you work alone, give thanks for the peace of solitude. Offer your labor to God, asking Him to help you to perform it well. Pray particularly for anyone you will meet today who is likely to be difficult and for the grace to handle the situation.

* As you interact with the people around you, pray for them and pray that you will be a good influence in their lives. Offer special thanks for those who have a positive influence on you.

* As you notice the weather, thank God for the miracle of nature, for good weather and for shelter in bad weather.

* When you read or hear the news of the day, thank God for the peace and stability in your life. Pray for those who have no peace, and that world and local leaders will be guided by the Lord.

* When you break for lunch, gratefully taste whatever food and drink you have, thanking God for the chance to rest. Praise Him for the flowers, the trees, the snowflakes or whatever of His good creation you encounter.

* If you have time for exercise during the day, ask God for a healing, healthy workout and thank Him for your body.

* When you return to work, recommit yourself and thank God again for the opportunity and ability to work.

* When you’re returning home from work, offer thanks for your transportation whether it’s a car, bike, train, subway or your own feet. Pray for the safety of all who are traveling.

* Begin your evening by praising God for time to eat, rest or complete any of the day’s unfinished work. Give thanks for those you’re enjoying your evening with. If you’re alone, remember that God is with you and thank Him for His presence. Pray for the people you know who are troubled and for patience with them.

* At dinner, enjoy your meal slowly, praising God again for His provision. As you finish your chores, thank Him for the chance to get them done and for rest from labor.

* If you read before going to bed, thank God for eyes to see and a mind to discern. If you watch television or a movie, thank God for the time and technology that allows you to enjoy them.

* As you lie down to sleep, thank God for the day. Ask for forgiveness for your failures and mistakes, thank Him for your successes and ask Him for healing rest. Occasionally God blesses those of us who are on the path but have not yet arrived at the place of trust with a glimpse of what it is like to live prayer, to live in Him. If we are ready for these glimmers, if we can accept them, they can prove to be breathtaking catalysts for our journey.

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