Today is National Day of Prayer. It’s also Cinco de Mayo but since I no longer drink margaritas & prayer has been working for me I think I’ll stick to praying. I’ve written in earlier posts that prayer has led to a miracle for me…my desire to drink has been lifted and is gone. I’m very aware that it can all come crashing down with one wrong decision, one drink, which is why I still pray and stay active in AA every day.
I start each day praying and pray or meditate many times during the day. All I know for sure is the white-knuckling wasn’t working until once I started each day on my knees praying and then the obsession with the next drink went away. It happened just as promised on pages 84-85 of the Big Book. I also take all of my problems to God and when I’m lost I’ll actually listen for an answer … and receive one. I love the saying, “prayer is talking to God, meditation is listening” and I do both every day. I haven’t had all my prayers answered but I do trust God’s plan.
One of my goals this year is to show others the same grace I have received. The most meaningful act shown to me was having friends from church praying OVER me. I don’t mean folks saying they’d pray for me, my addiction, my boys, my marriage and then expected that they prayed in private. I mean them standing with me in church, or even in the center of Market Square in my town, putting hands on my shoulders, bowing heads and saying a several minute long prayer out loud for me. This was done by one or several friends at once. I have to admit that it was kinda uncomfortable the first time, and then the second, third and maybe even the fourth time! But it was also one of the most intimate acts of kindness ever shown to me. It was such a show of love and compassion that I wasn’t feeling anywhere else in my life. One of my personal resolutions this year is to gain the courage to do the same for others. I say courage because showing ones faith today, outwardly, takes a lot of courage. But I know that it is such a bold way of sharing what we were given, God’s grace. To me, I could feel the love of Jesus working through the hands and words of these friends and it moved me to tears every time.
Praying can be intimidating. I realized when I starting praying each night with my youngest, Brody, that it can be hard to find the right words. I forgot the words to “Now I lay me down to sleep” and also worried the “if I should die before I wake” part would scare him! With my son and the kids at church I also try to keep prayer light and fun. I listen to sermons from Judah Smith who is Lead Pastor for City Church in Seattle and love how when praying with his congregation he ends by asking God to help the Seahawks and his buddy/church member Russell Wilson win that Sunday! So I do the same with my kids but of course it’s the Pats or Sox. At night I also always end with “and all the Kelly’s in the bed say…” and Brody answers”Amen“. At Sunday School I finish with “and all the kids in the room say…” and they reply, “Amen” to which I reply “louder?” and they scream, “AMEN!” I want kids to know that praying and this church stuff isn’t all serious. Jesus loved kids! They were drawn to him throughout the bible. “Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.” Matthew 18:10
You can find Judah’s sermons here:
If you are intimidated or you’re not sure how to pray you can turn to pages 86-87 of the AA Big Book and learn how.
Or you can take the advice I heard through this Brennan Manning story which moved me very much, “prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus.” It’s that simple.
Once I related the story of an old man dying of cancer. The old man’s daughter had asked the local priest to come and pray with her father. When the priest arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows and an empty chair beside his bed. The priest assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit. “I guess you were expecting me,” he said. “No, who are you?” “I’m the new associate at your parish,” the priest replied. “When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up.” “Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?” Puzzled, the priest shut the door. “I’ve never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man, “but all my life I have never known how to pray. At the Sunday Mass I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it always went right over my head. Finally I said to him one day in sheer frustration, ‘I get nothing out of your homilies on prayer.’ “‘ Here,’ says my pastor reaching into the bottom drawer of his desk. ‘Read this book by Hans Urs von Balthasar. He’s a Swiss theologian. It’s the best book on contemplative prayer in the twentieth century.’ “Well, Father,” says the man, “I took the book home and tried to read it. But in the first three pages I had to look up twelve words in the dictionary. I gave the book back to my pastor, thanked him, and under my breath whispered ‘for nothin’.’ “I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” he continued, “until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, ‘Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here’s what I suggest. Sit down on a chair, place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because He promised, ‘I’ll be with you all days.’ Then just speak to Him and listen in the same way you’re doing with me right now.’ “So, Padre, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.” The priest was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old guy to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him, anointed him with oil, and returned to the rectory. Two nights later the daughter called to tell the priest that her daddy had died that afternoon. “Did he seem to die in peace?” he asked. “Yes, when I left the house around two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me one of his corny jokes, and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange, Father. In fact beyond strange, kinda weird. Apparently just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on a chair beside his bed.”
Manning, Brennan (2012-02-27). Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging with Bonus Content (pp. 124-125). Navpress. Kindle Edition.
“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matthew 21:22
It works – it really does!
Greg – RagamuffinDad