In this New Year, one of my hopes for the year is to grow in faith, love, hope and mercy. So in looking at where to begin, I decided I need to look at my prayer life. One of my mentors used to say the first lesson about prayer was….Show UP!
“Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” —Romans 12:12
Prayer is often comforting and healing. It is a powerful and compelling presence that leads us down unanticipated paths. The word prayer rises from the same Latin root as the word precarious. Author Annie Dilliard wrote about the dynamic, uncertain nature of prayer:
“On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of the conditions. Does any-one have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping God may wake someday and take offense or the waking God may draw us out to where we can never return.” —Teaching a Stone to Talk
Prayer can lead us out to precarious edges where God opens our hearts and transforms our lives in unexpected ways. As a disciple/seeker, how do I continue to mark my day with prayer, how about my work? How is this new beginning an establishing a new rhythm, a new way of life can take time. Prayer is essential dialogue for the path of transformation, healing and peace. If we are to continue this growth and journey, then prayer must continue to be a visible presence of the rhythm of my day.
“Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” —-Mark 12:30-31
God loves us, understands our struggles, and calls us to love ourselves for whom we are—imperfect but precious instruments of peace, healing and wholeness. How easy it is to forget that the precondition of loving our neighbor, as suggested in Mark 12, is that we first must love ourselves. Perhaps remembering to practice self-love is difficult because we know our humanness all too well: the fear we justify as prudent, the insecurities we quietly nurse, and the anxieties that immobilize us and keep us from living fully into our gifts. God is invested in our loving ourselves, because when we do, we become more accepting of others and are better able to employ our talents as instruments of peace, healing and wholeness on behalf of the common good.
So as we continue in this beginning of a New Year to develop the newness of life in us when we learn to practice self-love and take care of others. Creating a habit of the heart that takes care of ourselves is essential to the care of those around us.
- What do I cherish about myself? What does God and others cherish about me? Are they the same?
- In what ways do my concerns about my limitations and lack of self-care keep me from being an instrument of mercy, healing and wholeness?
- In what ways do I see my work as an extension of the authentic part of myself?