Dear Grace Family,
At the home I grew up in my family prayed once a year. Like most of you, at Thanksgiving we’d sit down at our everyday table covered with a lace table cloth, my long deceased Grandmother’s china and silver, and besides the turkey, lots of food we loved but could only be eaten this one day a year, like the green beans with crunchy fried onions on top. Then, my Grandfather would say roughly the same, fifteen second prayer every year with exactly the same closer: “God, you take care of the big things and we’ll take care of the little ones. Amen.”
There are so many reasons I loved that fifteen seconds. I wondered if this was a prayer my Grandfather’s father prayed at Thanksgiving thirty year earlier and that made the circle of family surrounding me bigger than just the people sitting in our kitchen. My Grandfather always had an air of assurance and was renowned for being able to fix anything. And yet in this prayer, once a year he acknowledged thateven he could only take care of little things, just like me. Praying made him more of a human being. And even if it was only for fifteen seconds, that voiced expression gratitude to God filled me with peace-as if just saying God’s name pleased and made God present.
People often ask clergy how to pray. Answering that question mostly means convincing the one who asks that they already know how to pray and do rather than teaching them how. Just like a fish was made to swim, people are made for prayer. In fact, “How do I pray?” is a really good prayer. It’s a confession that you are small and God is big and it’s a question that reaches towards God with empty, ready hands.
Good prayer isn’t getting what you’ve prayed for. It’s being aware of how ever present God is and allowing that to make you more alive.
Think of that this summer when you smile at the pink, full moon resting on the cityscape, or when you know that you are eating a perfect peach, or when you lay in the grass and your joy stops time, even if just for a few seconds.
Nothing delights God more.