Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pray without Ceasing

I used to hear people use the term, "prayer warrior," and it sort of made my skin crawl. It seemed so holier than thou. And sort of creepy to think of a spiritual battle ground going on behind the scenes of everyday life.

But someone called me a prayer warrior the other day. Someone I know and love dearly.

And I was humbled.

From this person, it seemed like a huge compliment, an honor, to be called a prayer warrior.


The thing is, I don't pray as often as I think I should. I don't have a consistent time I set aside each day for prayer. I don't have any sort of prayer routine yet, although I really wish I did.

But, in the past year or so, prayer has become a big part of what I do each day. Any time I have a free second--in the car, waiting in line at the ATM, cuddling quietly with my daughter--my mind is usually drawn to prayer. Not because I'm a great person or a very disciplined person. Just because I care deeply about the people around me. And it seems to me that every person I know is fighting their own private battle of some sort. Big battles with no easy solution. And those battles are constantly on my mind. Job searching in a bad economy, health issues, financial issues, fertility issues, figuring out how life works with a child with a disability, trying to find a diagnosis for your child's rare disorder, loss of a parent, seems no one is spared and given an "easy" life.

Maybe I'm a worrier. A little anxious sometimes. Or a lot of the time. But my mind stops and rests on these concerns of my friends, family, and clients about a thousand times a day. Is that normal? I really don't know.

But I think that's why I pray. Because of my busy mind. And my wonderful friends and family and clients who are brave enough to divulge real life difficulties to me, to open up about their own little stories, their own little trials, and big trials. And huge trials.

And it doesn't hurt that I'm a member of an online prayer group through my old church. The other members of this prayer group--now they're the prayer warriors. Me, I'm not sure. That word still makes me a little nervous. But maybe I'm at least beginning to have the instinct to pray without ceasing.

In any case, prayer brings me a lot of happiness. It brings me calm and peace, and a feeling of connection with those I'm praying for, and with God and the angels and saints. Does that sound crazy? In Orthodoxy, we believe that we can pray to saints to ask them to pray for us, too. And that when we are in church worshiping, the saints and angels are singing and praying along with us. So even if we're the only person besides a priest in a service, there's really a whole crowd of saints and angels worshiping alongside us. I really think it's such a beautiful image. And sorry if I make any non-Orthodox folks out there cringe...I know it's a lot to swallow. But the communion with the saints stuff is really a big part of why prayer has been so meaningful to me lately.

If you pray, why is prayer meaningful for you? How often do you pray? Do you pray with words or just general thoughts? Do you hold images in your head when praying? Do you think that prayer makes you feel happier or more connected--to people and to the spiritual world?

By the way, the icon at the top of the post is Saint Melania the Younger. I took her name when I became Orthodox, so my Orthodox name is Melania. Check out her story if you're interested.

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