Monday, September 26, 2011

how do you pray?

My question is not so much about the practice of talking to God, but about physically what prayer involves for people. I guess, what I mean is whether prayer involves getting on your knees or your face before God, or praying with a group of people, or a specific place to pray, or whether prayer involves walking through a space for any given person.

I have been thinking about this for a while. I know all the things that prayer could involve that I listed above are good things. I would say, even necessary things. There are times when it is most appropriate to be on our knees or on our faces before God in prayer. There are times when we pray with others. There are times when we need to withdraw to a quiet place to pray. There are times when we may feel that a prayer walk is most effective.

And we will all have ways that we choose to pray more often than others because they are a way that works best for us to talk with God. That is a good thing. We are all made differently and we will all talk to God and hear from God best in different ways.

I was reminded this weekend that for me I talk to God best and hear from Him more clearly when I am walking through nature. I went for a walk through a park near my home and for the first time in a while felt like I was really able to have a conversation with God about things.

What about for you? Is there something you do or a place you to go to where you have the best conversations with God?

I do think that a problem arises when we try to tell other people how they have to pray - whether that be a specific time, place, way. Each person is different and that needs to be acknowledged and reflected in how we approach prayer. We need to allow for each other's differences.

Now, in saying that, I am not saying that we should never pray in a way that is not how we best communicate with God. I am not the most comfortable with prayer in groups, but that does not mean I never pray with others. I still make that a regular and important part of my life. But, it does mean that I am not going to choose to pray with others all the time. And if someone tries to tell me I have to, I will probably not be very happy about it and I will push back. There are times when I will pray in a group with people and there are times when I will still be in prayer about the same things, but I will choose to separate myself from the group and pray in a way that I feel I can best pray at that time.

We need to respect that everyone prays differently. And not try to force them to pray the way we do. We can encourage them and challenge them to try praying different ways - whether that be in a group or on a prayer walk or in a quiet place - but we must try to get them to conform to what we feel is best for us.

So, that leaves me with a question that I am still pondering: how do you pray?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

i just don't get it

"I just don't get it."

Have you ever read something in the Bible and thought that? I know I have many times. I know it's important to read the Bible and to learn what it says, but sometimes that can be difficult. It's not always clear what is meant or how what it says will help in our lives.

"I just don't get it."

I don't know about you, but for me that has sometimes been an excuse to not read the Bible. I reason that if I don't understand all of what I'm reading, then it's not worth my time. I want to understand what I read right away.

"I just don't get it."

What if there was a different way to go about it? What if instead of walking away from all of it, because we don't get part of it, we decide to instead obey what we do get? What if we started to pay attention to what we do get and obey it? Maybe then we will better understand more of what the Bible has to say. I know that has worked for me, when I've actually done it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


The other day I can across a poem I wrote on September 11, 2001. It seemed unfinished, until I reflected on it today and wrote a bit more. I have been a little reflective in light of it being a decade since that fateful, ultimately, world changing day. Life is certainly different now, than it was then.

September 11, 2001
The day the world changed
Four planes hijacked
Two towers crumbled
Thousands lost their lives
It seemed so far away
And yet it seemed so close

September 11, 2001
Nothing will ever be the same
An act of terror changes all
What once seemed impossible
Is now reality in my corner of the world
A safe place seems safe no longer
The world is forever changed

September 11, 2011
Ten years later
The world is a different place
Forever changed by one day
That no one can forget
There is no going back
To what it was before

September 11, 2011
The events of a decade ago
Still etched on everyone's minds
As if they happened yesterday
So many heroes died that day
As they tried to save another
They will not be forgotten

Just a little while ago, I came across this link to a video that was a moving tribute to those on 9/11.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

my dad

In the past few months I have had many opportunities to think about my dad and to reflect on the fact that I am lucky to still have him in my life. I have written about most of the rest of my family - my mom, my sisters, my grandparents - on this blog, but my dad has been absent from most posts. This has not been intentional, but it has been unfortunate when I reflect on it now. I still have my dad around and in my life regularly, but I know far too many people who do not, and I do not want to take that for granted.

My dad is a man who works hard to provide for his family. I have always admired that in him. And yet, as a little kid, I still remember the excitement my sisters and I had when he came home from work each day. We would run to greet him and he would quickly have his arms full of three kids. I do not know if that was the best part of the day for him, but it was for us.

Involvement at church was always modelled as important. My dad has always been involved in something at church. And I grew up feeling that it was something that was an important part of life, because my dad made it a priority in his life.

Growing up, life included a never-ending series of water fights and throwing nerf balls or other stuffed toys around. The right comment at the right time would bring laughter and something thrown. Or in the midst of a water fight, a bucket of water dumped on my head.

I guess I sometimes find it so easy to forget about all these good things about my dad, because we do not always get along well. We have our differences and they have ended in fights more than they should have. And then I do forget about the good stuff. It seems easier to focus on the bad stuff in relationships, but the last few months on many opportunities I have been reminded of how lucky I am to have the dad I do.

I know that my dad does not read this blog, and will probably never know what I have written here unless I show it to him, and maybe I will one day. I am proud to call my dad, my dad. And, even in the times when we are not getting along I would not change having him as my dad for anything. I know that when it gets down to it, he will be there when I need him, no matter what, and I know that he loves me. I could not ask for more.

Monday, September 5, 2011

failure? or an opportunity to learn and try again?

I was struck by a quote that I came across the other day.
If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call "failure" is not the falling down, but the staying down. (Mary Pickford)

From my experience, I would say that much of the time our world defines failures as it something not working the first time. Even the dictionary defines failure this way: "an act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful; lack of success; nonperformance of something due, required, or expected." But, maybe this definition limits us and holds us back from things.

What if we began to see failure as not getting up and trying again when something does not work. Maybe, like the quote above, we need to see things as mistakes and seek to learn from them and try again. How would that change things?
When I read that, I found myself reflecting on what it is that I call failure in my life. Do I see failure as the times when I try something and it does not work as I hoped it would? Or do I see failure as the times when I try something and it does nto work as I hoped it would, but I get back up an try again?