Recently at the Praise and Worship Center (PWC) there was a continuing spiritual education program offered, called the School of Prayer. I was privileged and honored to attend all five sessions. It was especially meaningful because my focus word for the year 2021 was “prayer”. In a prior reflection (May 2022) I shared that in 2020 I began having a focus word and that the first one was “transformation”; but back to prayer. When I was led to choose the word prayer for 2021, I remember being less than thrilled, thinking to myself, Prayer, really? How mundane. However, nothing else presented itself, so I stuck with it. All through that year I looked for opportunities to improve and strengthen my prayer life and I’ll say that there really wasn’t any sort of epiphany for me about prayer that year. In the past I had learned that I’m supposed to be a pray-er (with my life) but I had nothing concrete upon which to draw as far as that went. Then I began to practice contemplation about it, still nothing concrete. And so I wondered why had that been my word for the year?

After attending the School of Prayer in 2022, I now have a renewed appreciation for the phrase “delayed gratification”. There was a session on What Prayer Is and What Prayer Isn’t, as well as a session about prayer being a relationship with God. I think that was the big takeaway – that prayer is a relationship with God. I’ll add the adjective “loving” in there. With regard to prayer being a loving relationship with God, in a successful loving relationship I believe that there is give and take; so I need to be mindful of the fact that I really want to do my part in the giving aspect, and to give what I can with unconditional love, in my relationship with God.

The five sessions in the School of Prayer were supplemented with the book Learning to Pray by the author James Martin. I learned much about prayer from both the sessions and the book. One of the highlights in the book for me, was in chapter five, where the author wrote about 4 stages of development in becoming a pray-er: talking AT God (rote/formal prayers); talking TO God; listening to God; and being with God. I’m wondering whether there might be a time and place for each, in a mature relationship with God? I thoroughly enjoyed the book and further insights gleaned from reading it.

I think that writing this reflection is a form of being with God, and therefore prayer. Also, contemplative prayer, offered here at PWC, is a form of being with God. Be sure to check the PWC online calendar for contemplative prayer sessions, mostly held on the 2nd Wednesday of the month; and you’re warmly invited to attend. When I experience God’s hand in blessing with regard to the beauty in nature, that’s a form of prayer, too.

When I share my faith, there again, prayer. Dear Lord, as this calendar year comes to a close, may I reflect upon, and thank you for, all of the blessings bestowed this year. With a humble and loving heart, I welcome future opportunities for continuous transformation into being a more loving servant pray-er…in your most precious name, Jesus.