Picture two people, who love each other deeply, walking along a quiet beach. They may be a child and parent, committed spouses or devoted friends. They are walking, fully in each other’s presence. But at times, one or the other may wander off to study a shell or watch a sandpiper while the other continues slowly walking. Still, they are completely with each other and will often reconnect to share snatches of thought and imagination. In many ways, this image captures the meaning of the epistolary admonition, “Pray always.” On the beach of our lives, we are walking with God always.
But there are times in that walk when, for some reason, we will reach for the other’s hand. We will intensify and focus our attention to each other. The reason may be an awareness of something beautiful, poignant, frightening, joyful or overwhelming. We will remember these moments as specific experiences such as:
- • “It was the time we saw the magnificent sunrise.”
- • “It was the time we were frightened by the unexpected storm.”
In our lifelong walk with God, this reaching for and holding each other’s hands is a good image for the act of prayer. It may be initiated by God or by us, or perhaps by both at once. It may be vocal or silent. It is an experience which has a beginning and an end. Like the shared moments on the beach, these acts of prayer are definite moments, for example:
- • “It was the time I was overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s gift of my family and prayed that gratitude as I watched them around our family table.”
- • “It was the time I became aware of the call to greater generosity and service and prayed aloud for God’s guidance and support.”
These acts of prayer change us. They open us to greater depth in our journey with God. They deepen the sense of God’s presence within our total experience. They thin the veil which separates us from the Divine.
To become pray-ers like this, we must first become constant listeners. God is whispering to us in every moment and experience of our lives. As we learn to hear God in our own lives, we become better at hearing God in other’s hearts. Our prayers become a response to that Voice which first and constantly speaks to us.
Some music for you all:
Tony O’Connor – Whispering Sea