what is prayer

“Why must people kneel down to pray?
If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do.
I’d go out into a great big field all alone or in the deep,
deep woods and I’d look up into the sky—up—up—up—into that lovely blue sky that looks as if
there was no end to its blueness.
And then I’d just feel a prayer.”

L.M. Montgomery


(the quince are slowly forthcoming / Julie Cook / 2018)

According to Merriam Webster prayer is:

1. a (1): an address (such as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought said a prayer
for the success of the voyage

2. a: set order of words used in praying
b: an earnest request or wish
2: the act or practice of praying to God or a god kneeling in prayer
3: a religious service consisting chiefly of prayers —often used in plural
4: something prayed for
5: a slight chance haven’t got a prayer

Books have been written, lectures have been given and the search engines are endless…
Everyone has an idea, a thought, a notion…
as to what prayer is…
Both personally and publically

For you see prayer can be both.

There are the: ‘what types’, ‘which ways’ and ‘how-tos’…

Gandhi, a Hindu, offers one nice thought on prayer…
“Prayer is not asking.
It is a longing of the soul.
It is the daily admission of one’s weakness.
It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”

While Mother Teresa, a modern day saint, offers another thought —
“Prayer is not asking.
Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition,
and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”

Yet both saint and Hindu offer similar thoughts along a similar line…

Asking or not asking
Longing yet nothingness
Listening versus hearing
Words or silence.
Knees or standing
Thoughts or shouting
Loud versus quiet
Individual versus group
Need or praise
Hope or hopelessness…

We know that Jesus both wept and prayed..much as many of us do to this day.
He also implored…as in an earnestness that almost borders on begging.

Moses prayed and implored
Abraham prayed and implored
Just as every prophet, every apostle and every saint on down the line has done since.

I saw a sign outside of a church not long ago that read ‘to worry is an annoyance to God
As in God tells us not to worry…and yet our prayers are so often overflowing with
the very worry that this sign tells us is an annoyance to God–for it is a manifestation
of our doubt…our lack of faith…
and to some, it is even considered sinful…as in a lack of trust….and did not God state
to us to pray without ceasing, and to trust.

So I suppose I’ve annoyed God considerably over the years.
Sometimes more than others.

Sometimes I’ve known Him to listen, other times I’ve been left to wonder.

This is where the nonbeliever loves to pounce…taking hold of that latter notion with a
sneering “see, I told you so”…”for there is no God.”

But none the less, I pray.

Because none the less,
I believe.

Silence and frustration
Sound or emptiness
Annoy or implore
Wordless or shout
Anger or sorrow…

I pray.

“In the silence of the heart, God speaks.
If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.
Then you will know that you are nothing.
It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness,
that God can fill you with Himself.
Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

Mother Teresa

nothing…

Where you have nothing,
there you should want nothing.

Samuel Beckett

images-1
(image of Sgt. Schultz from the 1960’s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes)

If you’re old enough to remember watching Hogan’s Heroes as a kid, then the irony of dear old Sgt. Schultz’s willingness of denial and dismissal of everything and anything taking place under his watch, and under the scrutiny of his “policing,” should not be lost on you today.

For you and I my friend now live in a land in which the people prefer the likes of a Sgt Schultz… complete with his “look the other way” style and lack of scrutiny or action.
“I know Nothing”
“I hear Nothing”
“I see Nothing…”
As in…
Nothing..
Nada…
Nilch…

A society where the old axiom rings true…that the prisoners are running the jail,
or the inmates are running the asylum—
whichever non politically correct version you prefer.

For in that beloved 1960’s childhood sitcom…the WWII prisoners of war were basically running the prison camp…despite always remaining prisoners.

And maybe, just maybe, we now have life imitating art…or rather, life imitating a sitcom–
which may be most apropos given our current mental state over the troubling times of today….

For you see… our youth have become angry.

As even a good many adults may be eagerly added to that list of angry.

Oh, don’t get me wrong…
we have had bad incidents, sad incidents and incredulous incidents.
Terrible lapses in judgement and over zealous actions, throughout our cities and towns,
where both police and governing leaders have made mistakes and even willfully committed crimes.
For there exists both bad and good.

And it is that very thing that many have forgetten—
For there is both good and bad, Evil and Good

But, as we need to be reminded, there remains, as it is most often overlooked, more good than bad….

Our youth, and many of our adults, have decided that choices and consequences no longer matter.
The lines have blurred so that many of them honestly can no longer discern between right or wrong.
Laws broken are to be argued, fussed, cussed, discussed and blatantly ignored and we will tie the hands of the police and authorities in knots.

Never mind respect…
Respect of…
property,
possessions,
position,
age,
stature…
or simply for authority.

As today’s youth will argue and shout “I give respect if I get respect”
Yet I was always taught that if you were younger or lesser or less experienced, or less knowledgeable, you still had to respect the one who was older, in authority or further along—even if they didn’t exactly deserve it—for that was how it was and in the long run, you were the better because of your ability to yield…it was because our day would eventually come…the day in which we would earn the respect of those behind us…in part because we were then older, wiser and had lived longer or were responsible for those “under” us.

That whole mindset got thrown out with the bath water when the baby went out the window…

Many of our youth have developed that “gangsta” loving mentality which is running rife and found in the music, the clothing, the swagger and the very lifestyle they dearly enjoy. As the detractors cry “that’s just cultural” or “you don’t get it, so just shut up and sit down…”

The musicians, the signers, the entertainers, whose feet they do fall prostrate, reflect that all that glitters is truly golden and that everyone wants what they have… and so what if the lyrics, the lifestyle demeans women, promotes violence, relishes all things sexual and touts the use of drugs and all things illegal….who cares?!
for all things legal is just so utterly passé and yesterday’s news…

I hear talk of all of this being this generation’s stance, the movement of their times…
Yet I watch the old guard scratching their heads as to how its all now playing out.
They, the older movers and shakers of a generation long past, are lamenting out loud that there is no real leadership, no cohesiveness, no central theme or message, no bonding in order to rewrite the current wrongs…

Rather there is giddy and glee found in the anarchy, the mayhem, the looting, the violence, the hooliganism, and the vehement anger so loosely directed helter skelter.
Dare we say, no responsibility…
No patience in which to see things through as they yearn to move now, then quickly move on…

The divide is a growing chasm and we, yes we, have let it cleave and fracture wider and wider apart and into pieces as we have opted to see and say nothing in the name of all things of tolerance.

We have swallowed too hard the pill of not rocking the boat lest we upset anyone…. to such an extent and height that the boat has taken on too much water and we are now in peril of drowning.

We’re screamed at that black lives matter, as though the others do not.

Yet the bottom line to that thought is simple…
All lives matter…
as it should never matter the color…
just the breath and beating of the heart.

As the churches all wonder why their pews are sparse come Sunday morning
while the streets are thick the many nights prior …

Yes, we have troubles my friends, that we cannot deny.
As resentment is the only thing everyone seems to agree on
The resentment of one another is growing and dangerously morphing.
All while we continue seeing, hearing and knowing nothing…
Yet as we are slowly opening our eyes and ears, at this too late an hour—
we are finding that we do not like what we are seeing or hearing…
Yet there is nothing we seem to be able to do to stop it.

All the while the mantra of another time and place is whispered on the wind…
“all we are saying is give peace a chance…”