“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2 (NIV)
Prayer. It’s a simple word that conjures up many meanings.
There are the spoken prayers we offer in the liturgy, like the prayer of the day and the post-communion prayer.
There are the often quickly said prayers before a meal.
There are the gut-wrenching words that come in desperate times.
There are the spontaneous exclamations of joy and thankfulness.
These are prayers offered with words.
But prayers can also be offered with dance, music, movement, even sighs.
When I was young, offering prayers at meals and at bedtime was fairly routine for me. As a teen, I naturally expanded my prayers to include petitions before exams and significant events, like taking the driver’s test.
As a young woman, I became part of a prayer chain and would stop my activities to pray when a request was received. And over time I’ve come to embrace Martin Luther’s words, that “prayer is everything the soul does in God’s word.”
I’m not always voicing a prayer petition, but I truly see all that I do as being part of my constant dialogue with God. I am quite cognizant of the corporate and personal prayers I voice to God, while I am less cognizant, but still aware, of the many other ways in which I dialogue with God.
When I drove a portion of the Pacific Highway in Oregon I stopped twice to simply stand in awe, taking in the grandeur of the vast ocean and the breaking waves on one side and the verdant mountains on the other. I didn’t voice a word. I just stood there, contemplating the creator and the creation.
As we begin this new year, may you find ways each day that you may be in dialogue with God without ever using words. Do not limit your experience with God to that which can be translated into words.
How do you devote yourself to prayer?