Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take!
That's about as far back as my prayer memories go. This was done on my knees,
hands folded prior to jumping into bed and being tucked in, usually following
a sing session with my father on the harmonica.
Unfortunately, many years followed, too many, when "prayers" were just rote,
obligatory, meaningless words spoken without conviction. Prayers before meals
at holidays or with friends. (One close friend would follow a prayer asking that
food be blessed by throwing salt over his shoulder. Kind of a weird conjunction
of prayer and superstition) Prayers before sporting events, both as player and
coach. Prayers, far too many, at funerals.
Then there were the prayers spoken in desperation. These were in those times
that all of us encounter when we are desperate. Times of financial troubles, loss
of family members and friends, marital difficulties, depressions...the list goes
on and on. These were prayers uttered without the slightest understanding or even
care about whether they would be heard or just be echoes sent out into a void.
At a house church meeting in Oxford, Ohio, in the midst of the prayer, I was
suddenly clobbered with the realization that there was quite possibly someone
important at the receiving end of the prayer. Well, things have progressed, thanks
to finding a God-centered church that provides ample opportunities and teaches
the need and joy of praying to God.
And somewhere along the path, following baptism and lots of practice, I became
ABSOLUTELY certain that my conversations and prayers ARE heard and listened to.
It's probably associated with faith growth, with the redeeming work of God's spirit and
the conviction that God wants me to talk with Him, often.
What a glorious blessing! You CAN hear me now!