Prayer is a lover's conversation with God
COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
"Money makes the world go around," if we are to believe the wildly popular 1966 Broadway musical and subsequent motion picture Cabaret. According to readers of this column, however, I'm beginning to think it's not money at all, but prayer that makes the world go around.
In this, the third in our series on prayer, I'd like to share more of the many responses I've received from our coffee companions on this deeply personal experience of connecting with God.
Helen Hare, of Oakville, Ontario, appreciates the emphasis on prayer as connectedness. She writes:
"If only we could all actually feel that connection every moment of every day, what a difference it would make. I am old and, even having been brought up a solid Presbyterian from the age of five, I wish I could say that I had practised the connectedness as I have learned to do in the last 20 years of illness and surgeries and two years caring for my much loved husband with brain damage and then losing him. I would not have survived mentally without the mindfulness God gave me that keeps me aware of Him every hour of every day. Would that your message could be blazoned in the skies!"
Such mindful prayer is inseparable from faith, writes Raj Patwardhan, of Mumbai, India. It allows "the bird within you to fly upon two wings."
Just as poetically, one Cochrane reader confided that prayer was her daylong "courtship conversation with God."
Viewed in those intimate terms, Calgary reader Ron Nowell makes an important point: "Most people think prayer is talking to God, when in fact for many of us it's really about listening to God."
Prayer as lovers' conversation permeates the Bahai'i Writings, according to Cochrane author Pat Verge:
"When someone falls in love with a human being, it's impossible for that person to keep from mentioning the name of his or her beloved," Pat writes. "How much more difficult it is for us to keep from mentioning the Name of God when we have come to love Him." Living in a state of conversational prayer, she says, gives meaning to all of life. "If we do our work in an attitude of prayer, our work is considered worship."
Denise Youngblood Coleman, international relations consultant and a longtime coffee companion, also experiences prayer as conversation with God. She writes from Texas:
"For me, prayer really is connection with God. Sometimes, it involves talking with God and listening to Him. Many times, it involves worship of Him much akin to blessing Him and expressing love and devotion to Him. Frequently, it does not involve verbalization at all, but rather simple and meditative contemplation, as I try to find the universal thread that connects us all. Regularly, it involves watching, with awe, the canopy of trees en route to work... All too often, it involves me begging for forgiveness from Him when I've allowed road rage or political frustration get the best of me. But then, that gives way to quiet listening as I try to hear the wisdom He is trying to impart."
Cheryl Cottreau, who reads this column before catching the 5:30 a.m. bus to work, believes prayer is the positive connection with God who is as present everywhere as is "the space between the atoms." She writes:
"Prayer for me is just a thought away. Knowing that the love of the Divine surrounds me, sustains me and gives me life, I can 'call forth' that which is based in love and for the highest good for situations and people that may require a little healing. But mostly, I am just grateful. And there is such Joy in that."
Which reminds me of something Cochrane Eagle publisher Jack Tennant has told me on more than one occasion:
"The best prayer is just one phrase: 'Thank you.'"
But I've already used up my space for this week, and I've barely touched on prayer for our own needs and the needs of others. Is there a place for such prayer? I guess I'll have to come back to this topic next week.
Meanwhile, here's a prayer of my own: Thank you, God, for my coffee companions and bless them all.
© 2004 Warren Harbeck