Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. The lectionary theme this week is about prayer, using Luke 11: 1-13 where Jesus provided instructions about praying and offered a part of what we call The Lord’s Prayer as an example. This caused me to reflect on prayer life, in general, and mine specifically. What draws us to prayer? Joy, love, repentance, worries, sadness? What provides us with the best prayer experiences? Let’s take a deep, cleansing breath together, open our inner selves, and listen for the whispers of the Holy Spirit as we prepare for our conversations with God.
Let me ask you – what is your prayer life like? When did you first experience prayer? When has your prayer life been strongest? What impacts your prayer life?
These last couple of weeks have brought me face to face with a full spectrum of absolute joy to deep sadness, and all of this has impacted my prayer life. My emotions overflowed in both directions, and, truthfully, rarely resulted in voiced full sentences to God. My prayers were, at times, unvoiced words and thoughts. But prayers don’t need to be worded in flowery phrases. Jesus taught, “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7).
This last week I experienced friendships, some were newly formed and others were deeply-rooted and developed over the years, even decades. I offered my thankful praise to God in popcorn-type moments for the great joy that filled my heart. I was especially thankful for those moments because they helped me turn to God when my heart felt broken or scared. I took those feelings and requests to God, also, sometimes in sentences, sometimes in broken thoughts and concerns.
Often my prayers are quick reactions to moments of happiness or periods of need. But prayer life is incomplete if it is not given intentional and devoted time. Where do you find your intentional prayers best expressed? My drive to work or my walk from the parking lot to my office provided me with a time to pray. Now that I am retired, I seek out a quiet walk in the morning along one of the paths in a nearby park. How about you?
I also appreciate the shared prayers and guided meditations in our worship services, at retreat campfires, and in any group experiences where we have intentionally sought the presence of the Holy Spirit as a faith community. Sometimes I struggle to set the intentional time aside, but I never regret it.
Where and when are your best prayer opportunities? What do you include in your prayers? Have you included praise, thankfulness, repentance, and supplication? In the scripture from Luke, we are told to pray using all these aspects. As I reflect on my prayer life, I am reminded that I must slow down; pray in the moment, but also pray intentionally; pray in private and in community; pray for myself and pray intercessory prayers for others. I must designate intentional prayer time and remember the guidance that Jesus taught.
Now is an intentional moment for each of us to pray. Don’t worry about the smoothness of your words. Pray your heart. That is my prayer for you. Open your mind to communicate to God and allow the presence of the Holy Spirit to flow from your mind to your heart and from your heart back to the Holy Spirit.
Author: Bonnie Barber
Various authors throughout the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center and beyond provide these thought-provoking weekly devotions.