A New Way To Pray

Well, I haven’t been blogging alot – as you can see. This school year has really been doing a number on me. I am teaching an age group that is relatively new to me and quite challenging (11-13 years old – I prefer older teens), and a subject that I know how to *do* but I don’t have a lot of background in how to *teach* – French. Previously I taught high school science, and believe there is a huge difference from that to elementary school French.

This is the most difficult challenge I’ve faced in my professional career. I am suffering. Yet I still believe that God has guided me here. In spite of all the stress and difficulty, I am experiencing times of consolation. I’ve been praying to be open to being like a clay pot that is ground into dust (that’s what it feels like is happening to me), so that the dust can be mixed with new clay and formed into whatever new vessel God wants – whether that means changes in me, or my career, or whatever. But it is hard to be “crushed” in this way.

I recently got the book “Sacred Rhythms” by Ruth Haley Barton to help me find a way to better meet my need for prayer. I’m about halfway through but I was really struck by some of the ways of praying that she describes. I think the “resting in prayer” idea has had the most impact for me right now.

“In the stillness we make yet another discovery: the Holy Spirit is the One who really knows how to pray. We discover that prayer is truest when it has passed beyond words into the realm where the Holy Spirit groans for us with utterances that are too deep for words (Rom 8:26-27). The silence becomes a time when we listen for the prayer that the Holy Spirit is praying deep within us as he moves between the depths of our human experience and the divine will, interceding for us beyond words.”

So, I tried what she describes a bit later in the chapter – basically sitting in quiet, asking for God’s help to discover the true prayer of my heart. I really didn’t know what it would be – to bring DH to a job, so that we have more security and options? To guide us in the sale of our house & the purchase of another? To open up a way for me to return to teaching in highschool so I don’t have to go through the enormously energy-sucking days that I have now? To miraculously make me the best teacher in the system? But no – none of these. The prayer that eventually welled up within was “Jesus, be with me.” And that prayer is one that I am turning to constantly, every moment I can and I think of it. Like the practice of the Jesus prayer – but because this one is so acute for me, it comes much more easily than the Jesus prayer as I tried to pray it in the past.

Another lovely part of this was the bit on intercessory prayer. I am probably a slow learner on this one … but really, does God need us to figure out what we think is needed in a person’s life (even our own) and struggle to put it into words, and ask for it? I guess I thought so, given the parable of the widow and the unjust judge. But to me it feels much more natural to take the approach in the book and just hold the person being prayed for in my heart, as I try to sit in stillness and silence. If a thought floats in about what I think they may need, I won’t shy away from bringing it forward, but really – if I can be in the Lord’s presence, and hold in my heart those I love – and those I may not feel love for, but I am still praying for – that feels very powerful to me.

I don’t think I could do this without the sense of Jesus beside me. I know there will be a time that this will all be behind me. I am learning much about finding joy in moments of suffering. I know there are far worse things that could be, and I have many blessings to be thankful for. But times are still incredibly stressful here. I can’t help but hope some relief will come soon. Meanwhile, my hope and strength is coming from the amazing love of my husband, family and friends – and from God. Jesus, please – be with me.

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2 thoughts on “A New Way To Pray

  1. the misfit says:

    I like that idea. I need to get more invested in prayer. I definitely feel better when I ask for God to bless or be with His children I know are in need of prayer than when I ask for something specific (though I do if I’ve been asked to) – partly because I don’t believe that He pays a lot of attention to my requests generally, but also because I feel better if I ask for something that I KNOW is His will. As opposed to something that I think SHOULD be His will… 🙂

  2. Crystal says:

    I found your website while googling “the opposite of gratitude” which linked me to your 2008 Thanksgiving post. I continued venturing through your posts this morning intrigued by your sense of personal search, acceptance and “flow.” My circumstances are very different than yours– I’m a little more than a decade older, my child is an adult, I don’t identify as religious–yet I “feel” your soul’s journey in many ways. 2 years ago I experienced a profoundly mystic phenomena that has prompted me into searching for clues, which gave way to some answers, simultaneously opening exponentially more branched-out questions, as if jeweled seeds were being given, waiting for me to build onto seemingly never-ending paths. I know, it’s not just a guess, that the answers are within the often struggling, yet sometimes incredible, process of the unfolding. For me, it’s the letting go of my deep need to effect change, recognizing that time has it’s own way, but to continue on with seeing the beauty in everything. It is the “prepared” mind and soul that can understand not only the “a-ha” moments, but how even despair and emptiness provide thread to weave the universal fabric.

    It seems your email is not published, and my only current blog focuses on sexual free speech more than the other parts of my life’s journey. I’d love to invite you to dialogue further if you feel comfortable with that. I envision a group blog of many voices in search. Here is an old post of mine that does explicitly focus on spiritual genuflection and the rituals of gesture http://nakedsexpolitics.blogspot.com/2006/05/genuflection.html .

    But more than anything, I’m commenting because I wanted you to know, that your process is a beautiful one. Thank you for sharing it.

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