Praying with eyes and ears open
by Victoria Hamilton
It’s hard to remember a time when I didn’t know about prayer.
As a child, I prayed at bedtime and said grace at meals. I talked to God when my parents were about to divorce, when I was the new kid at school and when my mom had surgery. Throughout the years, many decisions, doubts, fears, joys and thanks have required the courage to listen to God.
I’m not the most eloquent person (sometimes my most heartfelt thoughts don’t match what comes up and out), but I pray anyway. Posture and place don’t matter. I can pray while sitting in a sacred space or lying in bed, while walking along the riverfront or while surrounded by my family and friends. I pray while watching people, imagining their stories and praying for the actions I see. I am in a prayerful state while listening to hymns, gospel or Taizé music.
Sometimes I light candles to remind me that God’s Spirit creates openness. I may burn sage to help cleanse my mind of negative thoughts. Spiritual warfare is real, you see. For example, I get really cranky when I feel as though there’s not enough time to get things done without losing who I am. When this happens, I can start behaving in a way that’s hostile and unproductive, untrusting and unforgiving. Of course, this is not God’s intention for me. God has so much good in store for us. This is about the time when I realize that an attitude adjustment has to happen. Trusting that I may be in the way, I ask for God’s forgiveness and move forward. For the last 15 years, William (my spouse of 45 years) and I have been co-pastors at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Jacksonville, Fla. Prayer has been essential for our service as mission developers for this congregation.
Victoria Hamilton is co-pastor, along with her husband, of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Jacksonville, Fla. She is the eldest of five girls, mother of Stephanie, mother-in-law of Autumn and Panashe, and grandmother to five.
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