Monday, November 20, 2006

Types of Prayer: Part One : The Happy Prayers

It seems that ALTO ARTIST and I have both been swimming in adjascent seas of prayer lately. I find her most recent posts really thought-provoking and spiritually very helpful -- helpful because they make me look even closer at how it is I relate to God through prayer, and because they help me see new paths through they eyes of another. I've been thinking that there are different kinds of prayer -- and in a blog a couple of entries back I talked about the setting of a prayer -- whether it was communal or private.

But then there is the "stuff" of prayer -- what is one praying about? I know this is where my prayer life hets skewed. This is where what should be easy gets hard.

First, there are happy prayers -
The Thank You for Doing Something Wonderful prayers, or Prayers of Gratitude.

The Thank You for Being prayers, or the Prayers of Praise.
This is where I think the Jewish tradition "gets" prayer in way that we in the Christian tradition often miss the point. So many Jewish prayers begin "Blessed art Thou, Lord our G-d, King of the Universe..." - the blessing over wine, over bread, before reading the Torah, before sleep..and on and on many touch points in the day, circumscribed touch points that allow for the opportunity to praise G-d and to thank Him for doing something wonderful. These prayers are part of the daily warp and weft of a Jewish prayer tapestry.

The Christian counterpart of Grace before meals is growing to be an overlooked custom, and one which was never standardized across denominations -- such as the Lord's Prayer. I like having certain formalized prayers to use in prayer. They help me not miss what I consiser to be a Holy Obligation, done willingly and with joy.

But the truth is I often forget to thank, and to praise in the course of daily life -- I neglect spoken gratitude for the ordinary miracles of life. I assume God knows that I am thankful and that I acknowledge His Lordship. But whether or not He knows is not the point. The point is whether or not I am as conscious of these things in my day as I should be.

The truth of the matter is that I have has a crummy year -- it has had hard things to deal with at every turn, and has made my world shift and change before my very eyes into something I almost do not recognize -- and yet I know that what lies ahead will be good and nurturing and whole. Thank God. Praise His Holy Name.

I have come through this year and have left many large pains behind me. Thank God. Praise His Holy Name.

I have work to do yet on making myself more whole. Thank God. Praise His Holy Name.

I woke up this morning. Thank God. Praise His Holy Name.

Oh, Beloved Lord, I do not thank you enough, praise you enough for the rich bounty of my life -- for the small and large loves in my life -- for the opportunity to make so many mistakes and learn from them -- for friends who buoy me up -- for all that I regard as ill fortune that ends up teaching me-- for the chance to be of use -- for everything around me -- I see your vastness in it all, your Kingship in it all, from the smallest of microbes to the largest of oceans, Your hand holds it -- please help me to remember to thank you for this luxury, as I praise Your Holy Name.


Blogger Songbird said...

Years ago, when my boys were small, I was the song leader for a large Sunday School. Every week we took up the offering of their dimes and quarters, and while the basket was being passed we sang a little song with these words:
Thank you, thank you, Jesus.
Thank you, thank you, Jesus.
Thank you, thank you, Jesus, in my heart! (long held note, so sweet when children sing it)
Thank you, thank you, Jesus.
Thank you, thank you, Jesus.
Thank you, thank you, Jesus, in my heart!
I try to pray this way, but it can be hard sometimes.

8:24 PM  

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