No the title to this month’s blog is not a misprint. Nor did my dyslexia cause me to switch my “G” and “D.” I did something strange the other day and I can’t tell you how good it felt. I’m the kind of person who prays short prayers throughout the day. But I also feel a need to begin my day with some intentional prayer for my self, my family and my church family. Recently there was something that was preoccupying my mind and I was having trouble focusing my thoughts and words in prayer. That’s when it happened: I grabbed my dog Benji’s face and while holding his head said my prayer to him.
Weird right? But here’s the thing; it helped.
A little bit about this dog. Benji is our 15 year old poodle mix. He is a quirky little guy with early onset of doggie dementia (the happy kind). But he is also the most loving and loyal pet we’ve ever had. They say dogs are great for comfort and stress reduction; we’ll Benji does that for me.
Now, please know I’m losing my mind nor am I converting to a new religion. But there was something about looking into the eyes of this trusted friend, the eyes of unconditional love, that helped me focus and feel my prayer connect.
As we move into this new year I’d like you to re-examine your own practice of prayer. As United Methodist are big on doing. We put our faith into action by helping others experience Christ’s love. This is essential to being a follower of Jesus. But we are also rooted in the practice of prayer and devotion. Your soul and mine yearn to connect with God. Doing God’s work is one way that longing is fulfilled. You’ve heard of the “helpers high” right? Well it’s more than that; is it your spirit and God’s spirit working in union. But here’s the thing: we also need to be still with God and like many of you, that’s something I’m not very good at.
Stillness with God is how we reset our soul to it default mode. In computing the “default” is a particular set of instructions which the computer always uses unless the person using the computer changes the instructions. There are many things in our busy lives that work to change the original instructions from God. Prayer is our reset. It brings us back to our original setting so we can be who God made us to be.
Back to Benji. What I know about myself is that I pray best when I can touch something or move my body. Don’t ask me why, that’s just how it works for me. So here are a couple questions for you. How do you best pray? What helps you relax with God so you can focus on what you need to hear (quietness) or say (yearning)? If you struggle with prayer try to combine it with things that make you comfortable.
It is sitting in your favorite Lazy Boy?
Or walking around the block, in the woods or while doing yoga?
Maybe it’s at the bedside of a sleeping child.
Or while writing in a journal.
Maybe it’s while holding your pet’s face in your hands.
What will you try to help your prayer life get off to a strong start in this new year?
Find what works, what calms and focuses you. But mostly remember the words of Jesus that when we “abide with him, he is abiding with us.”
I am anticipating another great year of ministry here at Central Church. God will be faithful and I believe you will faithfully respond by exercising your prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.
There’s a reason prayer is listed first in those membership vows.