Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Living on a Prayer

This is part of my on-going series on Practicing Pauses - finding the little moments of rest that are scattered throughout our busy days, and making the most of them. Last week I wrote about tools that help me (at least) to get the most good possible out of even the smallest moment - this week, I'd like to spend a little time more deeply examining one of those tools.


I mentioned prayers of gratitude last week, counting blessings instead of accumulating worries. I also like praying Scripture (Don Whitney has some good info on that), because that's a good way to go deeper into a short passage, like a Psalm, and alleviates the guilt I feel over only having time to read 5 verses.

It also covers another struggle - not having the words to pray. Because sometimes I am so exhausted, so distracted, so hopeless, so something that I can't think of anything to say that doesn't seem sacrilegious. A few months ago, Emily mentioned "breath prayers" in a Hope*ologie post, and it came up again in Breathing Room (which I got on my bookstore outing a few weeks ago). I kind of skimmed over the idea of a short, centering phrase, repeated over an inhale and an exhale, until I was listening to a Tenth Avenue North album and realized that I was already doing that, except that it didn't fit my mental definition of prayer so I didn't recognize it.

Empty my hands, fill up my heart,
capture my mind with You.


This is where
the healing begins.

On and on we go
come, love, take my hand.

Could the Maker of the stars
hear the sound of my breaking heart?

You gave us truth
the Truth is who You are.

We are free to struggle
we're not struggling to be free.

I need You, I love You, I want You,
no one else can make me new.

I know that You can give me rest
so I cry out with all that I have left.

Grace tonight
will hold us through.

Let me see Redemption wins
let me know the struggle ends.

(Ahem. Not my favorite band or anything. For more awesome examples, see all of their albums.)

Another thing Leeana mentions is "borrowing" prayers - Scripture, songs, prayers written by other people - because sometimes someone else already said what you want to say (again, Tenth Avenue North). It made me question my definition of prayer. I had my definition of worship widened last year, so I don't know why I didn't apply the same mentality to praying - to realize that in order to "pray without ceasing," it has to be more than the typified image of a person kneeling in solitude, hands folded, head bowed, eyes closed. Just as giving Brooklyn her dinner, picking up our apartment, and getting up in the night with Tobin can be a form of worship when done with the right attitude, so they can also be a form of prayer.


Inhale grace, exhale rest - how could redefining prayer help you to find more time for it?
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