Why do you pray?
At 62 years of age, this is the first blog post I have ever written. It feels intimidating to ponder what, if anything, I have to add to the billions of words electronically abounding in cyberspace. When we added blog capabilities to the NCF website our goal was to provide an additional way to encourage and facilitate conversation among all of us. With that goal in mind, this post is to invite responses to the question, “Why do you pray?” I’ll begin.
The Sunday, October 4, 2009 edition of Parade Magazine contains, “surprising results from an exclusive Parade poll” — a national poll examining American’s spirituality. One section of the poll asked respondents if they prayed, and if so, why and for what:
“In previous eras, Americans were on their knees nightly, convinced that they had to pray because a higher power demanded it. That conviction has largely evaporated. Although 51% of respondents said they pray daily, only 15% of those who pray said they do so because God expects them to. A much larger percentage (67%) said they pray because it brings them comfort and hope.
What are they asking for? Lots of things – 72% pray for the well-being of others, 60% for forgiveness, 27% for personal success, and 21% for money or other material things.”
I don’t know the exact questions asked in this poll, but reading the article stirred my own reflections upon why I pray.
First and foremost, my morning prayer is the time I stop and take the time to be grateful, to say, “Thank-you.” Not often by reciting a list, rather a simple thank-you for the mystery of life, a body that works, people I love and who love me back, for pollinating insects and singing birds, sometimes even for squirrels, whose chief entertainment is to take one large bite out of each ripening tomato in my garden.
Prayer is the way I have found to tone down, and sometimes even silence for awhile, the siren voices of anxiety and fear that are never far from my thoughts. In prayer, I often find a center that allows me to enter into my day with hope and courage.
What do I pray for? Anything that concerns me at the time. I must be careful, though, since thinking about and dwelling upon certain topics, even in prayer, is an invitation to anxiety for me.
For myself, I am most content, and, I think, most helped, when I move beyond words into an inner quiet, a warm and often joyful expansion of my heart.
For the past several weeks hummingbirds have stopped to hover one or two feet from my face each morning. Looking at me as a source of food? Asking for a blessing? Or simply joining me in giving thanks for Life?
I would love to hear others reflect upon this subject. Please post your comments below.