Begin

I find praying easy when it is green and warm. I can walk outside early in the morning and the conversation begins. God listening to me and me sensing God in the smell of dew, the new plants or weeds sprouting, the faded falling blooms, and the boundless prolific earth embracing all that is.

If prayer is difficult for you, there is not something wrong with you. You are part of humankind. And still I encourage you to pray.

Prayer is not the apex of perfect faith. You might not even be sure God is “out there” during your prayer. You might doubt it accomplishes anything to pray. Prayer is such that there is no formula and the techniques are wide in variety.

I earnestly began to pray as an adult during college. At that time I met a woman who would become my mentor. And every time I was with her sharing what was going on in life she would end our conversation with, “Have you prayed? What do you sense God saying to you?” Her invitations to simply bring what is going on to God has been a constant encouragement.

The saints and spiritual teachers explain that the reason prayer is challenging is that prayer is a crossing of an interior threshold. It makes us feel vulnerable and humble and open. Naturally we recoil from those feelings. I certainly do regularly. And to the point that sometimes I find myself pretending to pray but never really passing through the doorway. That is why the wisdom on prayer can be summed up simply in one word, pray.  As Nike coined, Just Do It.

Inwardly reach out into the unknown. Step into the mysterious expanse of being. And speak. Use words. Name names. List what is going on. And invite God into life as it is. Allow each word of prayer bring you toward that inner threshold where you begin to listen.

This poem from Mary Oliver is a perfect invitation.

Prayer
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak. 

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