Monday, November 1, 2010

Finding Ways to Connect with God: Writing Prayers

"Rumor is you got some kind a power prayer, gets better results than just the regular variety," says Minny to Aibileen in the best-selling novel, "The Help."

"But that ain't me," modest Aibileen says. "That's just prayer."

"You got a better connection than most," Minny persists. "We all on a party line to God, but you, you setting right in his ear."

"The Help" follows the lives of three women in 1962-era Jackson, Mississippi--a young white woman and two black maids. Author Kathryn Stockett chronicles the way their lives become intertwined, and how they end up challenging the prevailing racial boundaries of their time and place, while also forging personal ties.

You might be wondering what the secret to Aibileen's power prayer was. It's pretty simple.

She wrote her prayers out. Every night.

It's easy for me to get distracted during silent internal prayer. Like Aibileen, I enjoy writing out my prayers. (Though, sadly, I'm not nearly as devoted as she.)

Writing my prayers has been an excellent way for me to focus and draw closer to God. (After all, it feels strange to start a sentence about my desire to be a more patient mother and then end it writing out a grocery list--though this is the kind of thing I do in my head all the time when I'm trying to pray.)

While writing my prayers helps me feel like I truly connect to God, the prayers themselves on the pages of my journal live on beyond the purpose of the moment. I find that I enjoy reading my prayers weeks, months, or even years later. I write in a stream-of-consciousness style when I'm prayer-writing (which is a real treat for me, as a professional writer--when I'm on assignment, I can never take such a laid-back approach). But, I'm often a little surprised by what I wrote. In a good way.

It's as if God moved me to be wiser or more eloquent than I usually am. And, I'm sure he has.

When I take time to write with God, he gives me that coveted "connection"; he also gives me a feeling of peace and contentment, a sense of release after I give my cares over to him, and inspiration. My journal pages have played host to book ideas, article pitches, poem drafts.

He gives more than I, in my all-too-human selfishness, deserve. He gives me hope. He makes me feel like anything is possible when I send my writing heavenward.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 16: 11, KJV

Dear Lord: Please help all of us who seek a closer, clearer connection to you. Help to clear the static from our prayer lines. Guide us to the best way we can draw near to you--whether it's written prayer, spoken prayer, praying with friends or family, or some other creative form of worship. Amen.

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