Still Learning to Pray

by Elouise


Today is a quiet day. Not because I’m sick, but because I need to take care of myself. So I’m revisiting several books on prayer. Why? Because current events in the USA tug me this way and that way. Sometimes I feel as though I’m wandering, lost in the trees. Uncertain how to pray or how that might help my focus from one day to the next.

Here’s what I’m certain of today.

  • The human confusion into which I was born multiples daily, and isn’t going away of its own accord. Ever. There are things I’d like to undo and re-do in this world and in myself. I want us to sort things out and be good neighbors. Yet I fear it isn’t going to happen, even though we’re all part of God’s good if not perfect creation, and need each other to survive.
  • Human confusion seems to have a life of its own. It feeds on itself, creating ever-more-shocking statements, behaviors, attitudes and reactions. It thrives when we’re fearful and distracted. On guard. Looking over our shoulders as we try to figure out what just happened, and miss what’s already brewing for tomorrow.
  • In my small world, confusion shows up in anguish about what I’m to do from one day to the next. I’m not utterly lost or clueless; yet I don’t feel grounded in a clear approach to what’s happening around me. I don’t have a clear goal for each day that calms my heart and helps shape my actions. I often feel uncertain and lost, especially when I start checking out tantalizing, infuriating headlines that pop up every minute of the day.

For the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about prayer. Granted, our pastor is preaching about it every Sunday, so it’s difficult not to think about it! At the same time, I wonder how I am to pray, given confusion around and within me.

I used to think once I learned to pray, I’d have it all figured out. As though it were like theology. I think about theology as dialogue with Scripture, traditional documents, other conversation partners, the newspaper and my experience as a woman. It works!

However, when I consider prayer, my major dialogue partners have been God or Scripture or what my parents or the church told me to do. The newspaper has been a secondary partner. And though I’m aware of myself as this woman (not just any woman), I haven’t figured out how that shapes my approach to prayer. Sometimes I fear there’s something wrong with me–even though I know there is not.

So I’ve decided to look into this and begin writing about it from time to time. I want to live boldly with the courage of my convictions, as this follower of Jesus Christ who is this woman living in these troubled times. Somehow, I believe my dilemma about prayer lies at the center of my anguish about who I am and how that shapes my prayers from day to day. Especially now.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 February 2017
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