I think about prayer on a regular basis, and mostly I think that it is something I do not do frequently enough. However, this morning I had an insightful conversation with my friend Molly. Molly and I have been getting together for about three years, after meeting through a sweet spiritual moment at Starbucks, to volunteer at the mission once a month and to watch Rob Bell‘s Nooma videos. We don’t watch the videos as frequently as either one of us would like, but when we do, it is always good and thoughtful conversation always follows.
Today we watched “Open,” which is about prayer. In “Open,” Bell seeks to answer the questions we all have about prayer: why does it seem to work sometimes and not others; does God really hear our prayers; why pray if it doesn’t always work; how does prayer effect our lives; and, how is our life impacted by the prayers of others. While I was watching this particular video, two things crossed my mind. First, my friend Kelly can usually sense when I need prayer, and I can usually sense when she is praying for me. Second, Molly and I were just talking about prayer the last time we worked at the mission. Of course, Bell addresses both things, but you will have to watch it yourself to get his take on things.
Frequently, I have some of these same questions/doubts. Does God hear my prayers? What if I pray for the wrong things? Do my prayers really change the God’s plan? Does prayer change me or the world? What if God doesn’t answer the way I want? What if God makes a miraclehappen? Does God still make miracles? How am I the answer to some of my prayers? How can I hear God? Is that God I hear or my own voice in my head? Why pray at all? Yeah, I doubt a lot. But, I do take it to heart when James writes that the prayer of the righteous person is powerful and effective.
I had no idea this video would impact me the way it did. I usually like Noomas, but I find that much of what Bell says are things that I have thought about and already agree with. I would love to just sit down and have a chat with him because we have so many theological ideas in common. With that said, this video hit me more powerfully than most of the others have. I realized that my life is supposed to be one constant prayer, something that I have contemplated prior to today both here and in my daily life. Hearing someone else outline how that works, using Jesus’ prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane, though, really helped me to realize that we are all a part of the same creation. My prayer/life touches your, which touches hers, which touches his, which touches mine, and on and on. We are one in spirit, one in love, and one in prayer. This is why Jesus is finally obedient even unto death: he is part of the long fabric of prayer.
Molly and I then discussed this great article that she read in Runner’s World about a woman who runs marathons. When the writer of the article runs a marathon, she wears a bracelet that lists 26 of her friends or acquaintances who are struggling with something. For each mile she picks one friend on the list, then thinks about/prays for each friend. I think this is fabulous, and I pray as I run, or bike, or swim. I always have; it helps to pass the time, and it helps me to think about various friends and their families. I tend to be a bit more organic in my prayers, allowing my mind to wander from one person to the next, but the bracelet is a great idea. I would probably stay more focused in my prayers instead of trying to solve the minute problems of the day before me.
Speaking of running. I jogged–I jog; I don’t yet run–about two and a half miles today. I am still doing that thing where you run a couple of minutes and then walk, which is kind of annoying but necessary. I envision myself running miles and miles, though, which should be worth something. Once I lose a few pounds, I should be able to step it up and actually run and run for a good distance. That extra girth really holds a person back! My goal is to be able to run the five mile Turkey Trot in Dayton on Thanksgiving. Without walking and at a respectable time. I am signing up for a 5K run in middle September, so we will see if I can add two more miles on by the end of November. It’s sort of a craps-shoot.
Yesterday for an early birthday present my mom bought a new pair of running shoes for me. I walked in them last night and they are a nice fit on my short, wide feet. They are ASICS (Anima Sana In Corpore Sano, which means a sound mind in a sound body). I am my father’s daughter. When he used to run all the time, he swore by Asics. As do I. They are the only shoes that consistently fit my feet. Here are my new shoes, which they now have stopped making:
This morning after the jog, I tried some of the new tea I bought (I should say my mom bought) at Target yesterday: White Cucumber Tea by Tazo. The tea was interesting. I put a bit of honey in it because I was afraid of the taste, but tomorrow I will just drink it plain. The flavor is like a tea-version of a Mojito. It has lime, lemon, peppermint, cucumber, and white tea. I am sure there are other ingredients, but those are the predominant flavors that come through. And, it is decaf, which is nice. I also had some blueberries, yogurt, and wheat germ after the jog. Stoneyfield Farm makes an excellent organic vanilla yogurt that is perfect with berries of all kinds or bananas, but it is sort of thick, which might gross some people out. This concoction tasted a bit odd with cucumber tea, though.
Find this tea. Drink it. Be at peace.