From The Rev. Canon Dr. Anna Carmichael
Dear Sisters & Brothers,
I continue working my way through the spiritual practices outlined in The Way of Love. In previous Friday Reflections, I shared some thoughts about Learning and Going…right now I’m working on Praying.
Recently I accepted an invitation from the folks at St John’s in Lodi to work with them this Lenten season on The Way of Love. We started this past Monday evening and had some wonderfully rich conversations about the practices of Turning and Praying. What made it so rich for me, personally, was the willingness and eagerness of the participants to be vulnerable with each other.
So to PRAY…you would think for a priest, praying wouldn’t be so hard. It’s kinda what we’re supposed to do. But as I shared with my friends in Lodi, I’m really great at praying with and for people, but I’m not so good at asking for prayers. I don’t always feel comfortable being that exposed. But that’s what prayer is about…it’s about exposing your concerns, your worries, your desires, your needs and wants to God. And there’s something extraordinarily vulnerable and humbling when you share these things with another to ask for their prayers, or even if you just say it out loud to God. It means coming face to face with things we don’t always like to think about…loss, grief, change, desperation, fear. But praying can also be liberating. It can be a time to express gratitude, thanksgiving, and joy. Just as prayer can be humbling, it can also be a time of celebration to give voice to those things that we are grateful for.
In our time together on Monday evening, my friends and I at Lodi broke into pairs and practiced deep listening and prayer. We took turns sharing our concerns with a partner, being listened to, and then being prayed for. And here’s what I discovered…as much anxiety as I felt about participating in this, of being exposed, it was also a relief to share my concerns with another and to be prayed for (I hope my prayer partner feels the same). It was liberating to unburden myself to someone who I knew, in that moment, was listening to my concerns, and then lifted me up in prayer. It was liberating to hold hands with another person, and together, lift our voices up to God. I wasn’t expecting that sort of feeling, even though I probably should have.
So my friends, my sisters and brothers, I invite you to pray. Pray with someone. Pray out loud to God. Be vulnerable with each other. Amazing things can happen in the midst of prayer, even if it’s uncomfortable. Prayer reminds us that we are loved.