Saturday, March 11, 2006

praying out loud

Where's that part in Traveling Mercies, where Anne Lamott talks about praying out loud? Something like - for crying out loud, how embarrassing -here we are in church and everything and she want to pray out loud.

Well, I have a praying out loud thing all the time. You know, it's in my job description, so it's easy to pray out loud for OTHER people but to pray for myself is just not in my genes or in my family habits or church culture. Anyway, for a Lent practice, I'm trying to pray out loud for myself more - with the penultimate goal of deepening my awareness of God's work in the mundanities of life and with the ultimate goal of being a more effective pray-er and work-er in the world.

I'm self-conscious about it and it feels silly. It seems a little too new-age-hippie-save-yourself-and-you-save-the-world on the one hand and a little too Jesus-is-my-best-friend-and-I'm-the-one-who-knows-Him-best on the other hand. But I'm hoping with practice it will feel more real. So, here's what I just wrote for the Lenten prayer blog I've been adding to sporadically (which is populated, by the way, with pray-ers who are much more practiced and polished than I am at this):

Dear God,
You know our deal this Lent. My part of the deal is this: I will work on deepening my relationship with you by praying for and about my family and myself. Your half of the deal is...well, I don't know. But I suppose it is to reveal how You are always here and available but so often unasked for or unrecognized
It's so much easier, God, to pray for other people, for other situations, especially if they're far away. It's hard to risk praying for myself. It seems selfish and trivial. But I know in my heart that sometimes I pray for far away things because it's easier to imagine you as I imagine, for example, the children of the Sudan, or the people dying in Iraq. As an abstraction. Help me to know that you are really working in the reality of my everyday life, so that I can be strengthened in my prayers and in my work for others.
So, I want to fervently thank you for the wisdom you gave me today to pay attention to my body's cues so I would know a little in advance about the headache that was coming on this afternoon. I am grateful for the opportunity to rest then, which was what I needed. And thank you, Healing Jesus, for the help and patience of my family to encourage me to rest. I ask you to continue to work through my medicines, schedule, family and whole life as I move, with your grace, toward healing and wholeness.

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