Monday, March 05, 2007

In Other Words

"To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing."
~ Martin Luther ~

It is 3 a.m. I should be sleeping. I fight off worries about how my day will go tomorrow if I don't get back to sleep quickly. I pray.

"Lord Jesus Christ," I inhale His presence.
"Son of God," I proclaim with my exhale.
"Have mercy on me," I drink in His mercy along with the air that enters my lungs.
"A sinner." I push the effects of sin--tension, turmoil, guilt--out of my body along with the air I am releasing.
"Lord Jesus Christ," I begin again; ahhh, the cleansing of His presence!

This simple prayer, called The Jesus Prayer, has been used since ancient times as a way of attempting to obey Paul's instruction to "Pray without ceasing." It is said that this prayer begins as a prayer of the lips, becomes a prayer of the mind, and eventually becomes the prayer of the heart.

I am nowhere near remembering to pray, in any form, without ceasing. But prayer is my lifeblood. As my body can only live a short time without oxygen, so I can only go a limited time without at least a quick acknowledgement of my Lord. "Lord have mercy" is one of my most oft-repeated "arrow" prayers, usually repeated under my breath when someone has broken a glass or I can't find my keys. "Thank you Lord," is my other most-oft-used phrase, usually breathed into the back of a little one's head as they snuggle in my arms or on my lap, or when the sun streams in the windows in the morning.

I admit that as far as intensive prayer goes, I often function in an oxygen-deprived state. Nothing oxygenates my lifeblood like a chunk of time--when I can make it--spent intentionally pouring out my heart to God, then listening for His healing, life-giving words. But I find I can last for days on these little sips of oxygen, these little turnings of my heart Godward--more than I ever would have thought before cultivating this habit. And sometimes, prayer can be as simple as obeying the instruction, "Be still and know that I am God."

I'm best at that in the middle of the night. Probably God has noticed.

(For more Christian women's thoughts on prayer and the Luther quote, click on the "In Other Words" logo above.)


Butterfly Kisses said...

I, like you, still struggle with praying without ceasing. I know I should...and I think about it, but I allow myself to be too caught up with my day. This quote sure did convict me today!

MiPa said...

Second time today someone has mentioned the Jesus Prayer to me. That usually means I need to pay attention. Thank you!

Darlene said...

"...usually breathed into the back of a little one's head as they snuggle in my arms or on my lap..." I could imagine that feeling like I was holding my little on right now. It's a reminder that we have much to be thankfull for. "Thank You Lord" I could pray that all day long if I'd only be still to consider His goodness, and to know that He is God.

Denise said...

Bless you for such a wonderful post.

maria said...

The Trisagion (thrice holy) prayer, from the Orthodox tradition: "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Have Mercy on us/me" has been that for me on long sleepless nights. I hope that as a mother (someday ...) I will find more of those moments of being still, cuddling babies and just breathing thank-you. There's not a lot to give pause in this stage of our life, like that. Although sometimes simply remembering where we are (like the night I drove over the hill and saw the Aurora last week) will do it. Making a practice of it is harder.

Crystal said...

What an awesome post.....I am better in the middle of the night too it seems that is when God wakes me up to do my most intense praying!
Thanks for sharing

Kathryn said...

A thoughtful and lovely post on prayer - thanks Jeanne.

5KidMom said...

Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Jeanne. Beautiful stuff! I am convicted.

eph2810 said...

You are right--prayer is a our lifeblood. Without it running through our vanes, we are deprived. I don't have sometimes the intensive prayer times, but with every breath I take, I remember and praise His presence.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this week's IOW quote.

Blessings to your and yours.