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Two Kinds of Prayer

Prayer doesn’t always take me to a quiet, peaceful place. Sometimes I need to pray for all the things that swim in my head.

Rick Hamlin, Prayer blogger

It seems that a lot of my prayer time is divided between “Here’s what I want, Lord, you’ve got to listen to this…” and then “All is well, all is well, all is well.”

The other day I closed my eyes in prayer, ready to go on some spiritual journey that would take me to a quiet, peaceful place, but all too soon I was thinking about tons of other stuff, urgent matters and clutter in the brain, worries about work and family and friends. I thought of a friend who’s desperately looking for a job and a colleague who got a bad report from her oncologist and the homeless man sleeping on the sidewalk.

Then there was all the “me” stuff—frustrations, anxieties, wishing someone would respond to an email or return a phone call, irritation at some imagined failing.

It would seem wise to skip all of that and go straight to a quiet, peaceful prayer, but I’ve discovered that then I’m not being very honest. I’m not even in the mood for calm. I need to pray for all the things that swim in my head.

Then, and only then, am I ready for a quiet letting go, a shedding of myself, an acceptance of goodness, a listening to God.

It would be easy to say that prayer should be one thing or another, but it doesn’t really work that way, at least not for me. I need to ask God for tangible things. I need to go through my own “give us this day our daily bread” list. Then I can sink into that other deep spot of “Father, thy will be done.”

It takes both kinds of prayer, the asking and the letting go. I can’t do the one without the other.

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