Lord, Teach Us to Pray. – Andrew Murray
Some om, cross legged, eyes closed, hands out in open surrender. Others kneel, nose to ground, stomach pulled in as a physical reminder of smallness. Some pace, some chant a mantra. Some lift their hands and others clasp them tight. Many rock back and forth. Some begin to hum, others sing, others say “thank you” over and over until the words are unrecognizable and begin to echo in their ears. The sounds of prayer fill a room, an orchestra tuning their hearts, finding a rhythm, connecting and listening and joining in with those around them.
Peace is found in the ritual. Peace is found in the music of prayer, the songs, the dances, the sway of a church choir and clapping of hands and the stillness and silence of Lord Hear Our Prayer.
Prayer is mysterious. It is evasive. It is absolutely impossible to do at times, when the heart is hard and life is loud. I find myself drawn to the rituals, rediscovering the winding cacophony of vocally expressing praise, thanks, amazement, wonder, and needs. I remember the voice of my father, deep and muttering, lost in another world where his words are more than consonants and vowels thrown together. I remember my mother, who rocks back and forth and sings whatever song comes to mind. I see their faith, their rituals of spiritual connection, and I am reminded of the good news that I, too, can have a ritual.
So I quiet my heart. I open my mouth. I sing, I hum, I think of the beauty of the world and the honor of being in it to make a difference. I say thank you. I say wow. I say please. I look at my students, and pray that their lives will be filled with joy, discovery, compassion, understanding and action. I pray for those far and near, during this month of rituals when I cannot be with those I love. I pray that the music of my prayer will change my heart, even if it doesn’t change anything else.
I pray the rituals of prayer give peace to those singing the music in their hearts.