Today is our National Day of Prayer.
I think there are two kinds of prayer: Maintenance Prayer, and Praying Absolutely.
For me, ‘maintenance prayer’ is what I do every day on my way into work.
As I merge onto 410, I say two prayers. The first is The Jesus Prayer, a short, haiku-like prayer that comes to us from 5th Century Egypt. It is, quite simply: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, amen.”
And then I say The Lord’s Prayer, or The Our Father, as it’s known in the Catholic tradition.
These two prayers are my way of checking-in with God, and asking for blessings and protection as I go about my day. They are also my way of reminding myself that I am a child of God, and I need to ‘maintain’ my connection with The Divine on a daily basis. Beyond that, these prayers require nothing of me spiritually or emotionally.
To pray ‘absolutely’ is quite different than my daily ritual of merely ‘maintaining’ a connection with God, and the best way to illustrate what I mean is to give an example from my own life.
When I moved to San Antonio after my first marriage broke-up, I spent about a year and a half enjoying my new found freedom. I had a lot of fun in those days, quite frankly. But, at some point, after the fun stopped being fun, I found myself in a very dark and isolated place. I was drinking way too much, which, when you are depressed, is like tossing gasoline on fire. I stopped writing, I stopped doing things with my friends, and, near the end of it, I was barely able to get out of bed to go to work each day. I felt like a failure as a parent, and as a human being.
One morning, in a moment of absolute desperation, I begged God for an angel.
I remember sobbing into my pillow, and praying with every molecule of my being, “Lord, I need you to send me an angel! I can’t do this another day. I won’t make it…”
I prayed absolutely.
Well, I can tell you it wasn’t more than three or four days later that I discovered the woman who would become my wife. She was the angel God sent me. And it was because of her that I was able to rise up from the ashes of my depression, and start living again.
I believe that when we pray with everything we have, when we pray absolutely, God delivers.
This is not to say that maintaining a daily prayer ritual is a bad thing. But merely repeating pre-written prayers in our heads is not nearly enough to properly nourish our spirits in the love and grace of The Divine. As Christ gave everything to us, we need to give everything to God, the Father.
We need to pray absolutely.
And not only when we are desperate or in need of something.
I think the trick of it is to pray absolutely in moments of thankfulness.
That’s what I need to work on.
Jesus loves you and so do I,
To check out Sean’s newest collection of poetry, go to this link: