Saturday, April 26, 2008

To Pray or Not to Pray

Went to a prayer breakfast this past Saturday at an African American church. I was the only white person there and I was welcome. The topic of the gathering was prayer- a message I was ready and needing to hear. I will share some learnings from this speaker in another post.

I have been warming up to the idea of praying regularly and on purpose. This does not mean that I don't pray- because I do. Those of you who really know me, know that I am on a spiritual journey and have quite a bit of faith. This faith has gotten me through some pretty rough times.

You see the concious decision to engage in prayer requires me to have some bravery and an openness to what I hear in response. I have a distinct feeling that God wants to use me for some purpose and if I listen, it will become clear. I don't say this because I am special or that I have some kind of gift- it has been a gut feeling for some time now. I also know that God uses the most unlikely candidates to carry messages, or carry out his wishes or to make a point.
This comes at a good time, I feel I have been wandering around aimlessly for what seems like eons now. Even though the timing is good, I still acknowledge that I have some fear of what is to come. What will God want of me? Will it be hard? I have been fine bumbling along. I have successfully kept my life busy- allowed the hustle and bustle around me to take center stage.

The noise associated with life has given me the opportunity to "tune out" many messages that I have been sent. God still gets through though. Even though I have done my best to distract myself, his presence is clear. This is an improvement from days gone by- a time when I seriously doubted his existance. I doubt no longer.

I have a knowing that if I am quiet enough, welcome him through prayer and listen, that something is gonna happen. There are times when I do have doubts though. My doubts center on my ability to be a vessel for God. I have been broken, lost, judged, and chastised. In many ways I have felt alone- trying to figure things out- and that is probably why I am tempted to open up and pray. Maybe, I don't need answers- maybe I need connection. Maybe, in my brokeness, I can provide some service to others. Maybe as others judge me or my circumstance, I can be an example of what not to do, or of how to recover from a fall. Maybe, I won't need that outside affirmation, if I have the internal strength and the knowledge that I am loved and accepted already.

So, I pray- for me, for you and for the bravery to do what I am called to do.


Katy said...

this is beautiful Erin. :)
God gets through to me too, in particular when I don't want him to. ;)

Erin said...

Funny isn't it? I think we all have the potential to be connected with our Source (God)-and then, we have a unique way to share that gift with others.

For a long time, I debated if I had something to share, if I was worthy to do God's bidding and such. Now I realize that anyone can participate- God is "up with people"- if we are open to him, he is open and accepting of us.

Anyway, I appreciate you and really believe you are a conduit for God as well. You have been a blessing to Quinn and I as we get oriented to the boy scout thing. And, Don too!

Mars Girl said...

Having been an atheist most of my life, I struggle with the prayer issue (mostly the feeling of feeling dumb when I do it, as if people were watching and criticizing my prayer). Prayer has always been a source of embarrassment for me because it was usually thrust upon me in unwelcome moments when I was forced to participate and "pretend" that I was "in" with everyone to cover up my atheism.

Anyway, I have a lot of issues with prayer that still haunt me... Even now, as a practicing UU who is no longer really atheist but "amorphously religious."

I always feel kind of self-centered if I ask God for something specific.

However... I have the strong conviction that volunteering at the hospice, which I will start in the coming months (just completed training) is where I'm being pushed, perhaps by God. I think God wants me to turn the pain of losing my husband into something positive by helping others get through it. I dont know if it's a career choice yet, but it seems I'm being pulled to help, if only on a volunteer basis. I feel like I'm supposed to sacrifice my time to help others in this way.

I think maybe that's God speaking to me. But the former atheist in me tells me I'm being superstitous. ;) It's an on-going battle!

Erin said...

Well MarsGirl,
We are products of our past experiences- good and bad. I have baggage too about prayer or clapping in church or being able to express my faith out loud.

I have been challenging myself to look bravely at these areas and try new things and step into a faith journey, even though things are not very certain.

Ultimately, faith requires trust and that is something hard to give at times. It may indicate that we are dependant on someone other than ourselves and we may need to be vulnerable for a minute. This, admittedly, is very uncomfortable for me. Can I really let go enough to believe and someday profess my faith?

Big questions.

I think anything real and rewarding takes some risk. You working within hospice is an example. In order to do that we (you) must face the reality that we will someday die, time is precious, and that we will experience loss in the process. You are brave for "going there".

So, I have decided to have discussions with God. Nothing fancy, just a chat here and there. I am trying it out so to speak. We will see.