I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer this month. It’s our topic for Wellspring and as an Interfaith Ministry candidate, my colleagues all request, believe and recite prayers in the work we do together. There are Jewish and Hindu prayers, there are Catholic and Muslim prayers and even Pagan prayers spoken in my circle. We express a deep acceptance and understanding of all prayer. So why do I struggle? Why am I more comfortable among the UUs in our bunch, who seem skeptical as the rhythms of childhood prayers fill our ears?
I grew up steeped in a prayerful tradition. Being raised Catholic we had prayers for everyday of the year, every day of the week and every transitional event in our lives. I remember my first prayer book and the rosary I held that let me count the prayers I said. I remember after confession being given prayers for penance, to ask God’s forgiveness. I even remember writing the “Hail Mary” on 15 pieces of paper and clipping them to the clothesline in order to assure a lovely day for my cousins wedding. I remember my mother’s last question to me every night. “Did you say your prayers?” The answer was usually, yes.
But as I grew older I moved away from prayer, maybe because it didn’t seem to work for me. I sometimes felt as if I didn’t do it good enough, or maybe I wasn’t good enough. My mother never got well and my cousin did go to Viet Nam. But then when a prayer wasn’t answered the way I wanted, someone always said, God works in mysterious ways, or God has his own plan. With this trumping all my hard work, I figured I would just try another tack.
Except for one night, the night my mother died, I soothed
her restless ranting by holding her and reciting the prayer over and over and over,
Hail Mary full of grace, the lord
is with thee. Blessed art thou among women…
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death
So this morning I was paging through the paper and found a
whole column of prayers in the classified section. All of them seem to be Catholic and most are the same exact prayer…Prayer to the Blessed Virgin (never known to fail)…and I wonder what compels someone to pray so publicly and what are their many petitions. And is it true, does this prayer never fail? I’m flipping through the radio stations as I come home from grocery shopping and I hear the Christians reciting Bible passages. There’s a new Islamic station that comes in from Toronto and I hold the dial as the Call to Prayer fills my ears
I turn the corner and see before me the steel grey sky of an ominous November morning, the sun beaming behind me illuminates the golden oak
tree and a flock of birds swoop down showing me their white bellies. I almost forget I am driving as the wordless prayer wells in my heart.
And I think perhaps that’s what we all have in common, the
Catholics with their rosary, the Jews at the wall, the Christians with the Bible and the Muslims five times a day. Through prayer, we all open to the possibility of God. That’s it, that’s all and that’s all that’s needed.