That picture is a powerful image of the meaning of prayer.
Each week for the next six weeks I’m going to be defining practices or things we can do to let the light of God reach the deeper corners of our soul. We will use these practices as our theme for our Wednesday evening worship, this memo and Sunday morning worship. Which brings me back to that picture and why it such a powerful image of prayer for me.
Prayer is many things. Prayer is both talking and listening, it is giving and receiving, it is being silent /still and it is reaching out / engaging others. In this way prayer is a conversation with God where we are most honest, genuine, and authentic and can expect the same from the divine. This conversation can happen spontaneously or it can be mulled over and written out over a lifetime.
Fredrick Buechner, whose quote I made into our call to worship, says;
We all pray whether we think of it as praying or not.
The stammer of pain at somebody else's pain.
The stammer of joy at somebody else's joy.
Whatever words or sounds we use for sighing with over our own lives.
These are all prayers in their way.
(Fredrick Buechner, Whistling in the Dark)
I speak about prayer often in worship. I don’t write these things out but allow the moment, which is usually right after our time with our children as they leave for Sunday School, to speak to us. I’ve found that if I can stumble around and say something in a way one of those kids could understand, it opens me to a deeper connection, it prepares me to be real with myself in our coming conversation with God.
If I were asked to say something about that picture to a child who had noticed the cross on the woman’s forehead and had asked me…is she praying, I would say yes.
Now most of the time that is all a child wants to know, but it gets me to reflecting. She is praying… and God is crying with her. She is praying and showing us God's response to the outrage of another mass murder in an American school. She is praying, and God’s light will somehow overcome even this darkness filling her soul. She is praying and God is holding her as tightly as she is holding the child next to her.
Keep the Faith,