Last week, before we ate together, Bree and I bowed our heads – and then there was a moment of silence. Usually, somewhat organically, one of us will say a short grace. Now that I want to explain it, I don’t think there was a moment where we decided this would be our pattern – It just seemed to naturally emerge. After all, we met one another in seminary – perhaps it was a given.
But, that night, it wasn’t. We sat there in silence, until I opened by eyelid and peeked at her. We were both tired, from long days at work. I think I felt like there was nothing to say. My day had been ordinary – no big God moment, or standing in recognition of the holy. And our dinner was simple – leftovers we each had pulled from the fridge. It didn’t feel like much needed to be said.
So, it got me thinking about prayer – do we pray for us, or for God? Why do we do it? What does it do, to us? to the world? to the relationships that happen around it?
Prayer is for God, yes – but I am sure that more than my prayers shaping the actions of an all-knowing, compassionate God, my prayers shape me. They shape me into a person who recognises the holy – one whose vision has perhaps been fine-tuned towards the Divine. Prayer is itself an action, and it leads me into further action – it helps me to reflect on where I see God, and to go towards that light, towards that promised kin-dom.
Last night as I bowed my head, I had no poetic slurry of words. Instead, I began by saying, thank you. And I followed with things for which I am thankful. For family, for these delicious tomatoes, for tax documents prepared by someone else, for food filling my fridge, for seeing friends, for a car. . . Once I began, I had quite a lot to say. I think this is how prayer is shaping me — not such that I won’t ever sit in silence, for there is holiness and wisdom in that, as well — but such that I never feel as if a day is only “ordinary”, and needs no words of gratitude.
I am still learning.