Friday, May 31, 2013

Let's talk about Prayer.


Please note: I write here from my own experience, and my own understanding.  I do not hold myself up as an official voice for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nor do I make so bold as to speak for any other members of that church than myself--or any other person, anywhere.  These are my experiences and thoughts, as I try to learn and work through gospel topics and scriptures, and draw closer to my God.  This blog is written from my perspective as a lifelong member of the LDS church, and written largely to an LDS audience.  Of course anyone is welcome to read along . . . but knowing the voice and audience should make things a bit clearer.  Thank you; you may now return to your regularly-scheduled perusal of my ramblings. :o) 

Prayer.

Pretty basic, right?  Christ showed us how to pray; He prayed for us.  Prayer is nearly as old as mankind itself, and is practiced throughout the world by untold numbers of people, in (and out of) untold numbers of churches/religions.  Prayer happens when we choose, or it's torn, unbidden, from our hearts, or explodes outward with all-consuming emotion.  It pours out when we're filled with love and gratitude and joy, and is a speed-of-thought direct line to our God.

Basic? Yes.  Heady? Absolutely.

This summer I went on a reading kick.  For a while I read sweet, Christian romances . . . (stick with me--this really IS related) . . . and my responses to the faith-related portions of the story surprised me.  Some of them literally redirected my thoughts, and the course of my day . . . one of them, the course of my life.  Not drastically . . . but subtly, like the necessary hundreds of corrections during a jet flight to keep it on course, and save larger, more difficult corrections later.  But, one of the most amazing things to me, was reading the prayers that took part in the story, often offered by loving pastors or friends for the protagonist.  But you need some history on me for this to make any sense.

I'm a pretty sheltered Mormon girl.  I was born into this church, and have only attended other churches's meetings twice in my life (both of which were very conservative).  I've had friends from all kinds of religions, but I've never worshipped with them . . . faith and spirituality has never been a part of my friendships, until recently.  I've made some friends locally, and have hung out with them and their church friends a couple of times.  My friend and I have shared spiritual experiences and prayers and dreams, and it has been wonderful.  I've learned more about how her church functions (it's part of the Church of God movement), and I know people in her congregation who have had miracles and healings in their lives.  For someone who was taught as a young child the myth that those kinds of things just didn't happen outside of the LDS church, this has been simply awesome. (I know, that sounds both ridiculous and horrifying.  Even admitting I was taught that by well-meaning children's Sunday School teachers is horrifying to me.  Myths tend to stick, especially in such an insular and defensive community as the LDS church. There's still plenty of misunderstanding out there about Mormons . . . and there's also plenty of misunderstanding about other faiths in the minds of many members of the LDS church.)

Anyway, I've been shown many different ways to pray lately . . . and have seen the power of unrestrained, sincere prayer.  I feel like, throughout my whole life, I've mostly followed the rigid example of my church meetings: prayers to open and close.  So, I've said my morning and evening prayers.  I always give thanks over food, and will often pray when something comes up . . . but prayer is so much more than that.  It can be so freeing, so empowering.  A prayer that's nothing but praise and thanksgiving brings a rush of the Spirit like you wouldn't believe.  (Unless you've experienced it yourself, of course. ;o)

So, go give it a try.  You won't regret it.

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