How’s Your Prayer Life?

From the Pastor’s Desk


How’s your prayer life? A colleague of mine posed that question to me at a recent clergy gathering. It’s a question that causes us to pause…the usual answers to “how are you?” that most of us typically use as a greeting won’t suffice here. “Busy” doesn’t seem like a good way to describe one’s prayer life, “good” seems generically dishonest. An odd question but the longer I thought about it and we began talking about it the more I realized that this question gets more to the heart of how we are REALLY doing than any generic greeting ever could. So how is my prayer life? Well, despite the fact that I am a pastor (or maybe because of it), my prayer life isn’t perfect. It has unexpected twists and turns, there never seems to be enough time, the requests are many. But there are those moments of clarity, moments that we might not define as “prayer” in the traditional sense but are moments when I truly find myself in conversation with God…when I laugh out loud at the flight of a monarch butterfly crossing my path as I make my way into a coffee shop…when I am sitting at the bedside of a dying person and feel the peace of God settling around us as I read the psalms aloud…these moments are prayer just as much (and maybe even more genuine) than any scripted prayer. I find myself praying as an ambulance whizzes past me in traffic, or as I serve food to those in need at St. Ben’s.

Prayer comes in many forms and serves a multitude of purposes. As the Thanksgiving holiday rapidly approaches I think more and more about prayers of thanksgiving and am struck by what Barbara Brown Taylor says about     prayer: “My hope is that if I can practice saying thank you now, when I still approve of most of what is happening to me, then perhaps that practice will have become habit by the time I do not like much of anything that is happening to me. The plan is to replace approval with gratitude. The plan is to take what is as God’s ongoing answer to me.” Wow, I never thought about prayers of thanksgiving that way. She’s right, of course; too often my “thanksgiving” prayers are really a litany of things I like. What if we thanked God for everything? How would it change my prayer life (or all of my life) if I gave thanks to God, even when things didn’t go well? I can envision this as changing my outlook on things. What if, through giving thanks for the slow driver in front of us, we became more mindful of the need to slow down our own frantically paced lives? I’m not sure if I’m on to something or not, but it certainly might be worth the experiment.

Prayer is a spiritual practice we can all do, anytime, anywhere, anyway. There are no rules to it, except perhaps that it should come from the heart. I’m going to keep working on my prayer life, living into my prayer life. I hope you do, too. And don’t be surprised if you hear that question one of these days, “So, how is your prayer life?” I hope it is a great conversation.


Grace and Peace,

Pastor Tara