My husband is worried that I’m painting too rosy a picture of what happens on the prayer stair. Just to set the record straight, there is often a lot of jostling (sometimes fighting) about who sits where before we even start. Sometimes at least one of us is in a bad mood. If there is a quiet moment, it isn’t uncommon for someone to say something in a really low voice or in an accent (or both) and make us all crack up. Any prayer that might occur happens in that context. Now you know.
I quite like the fresh start of January. There’s a twinge of sadness that it’s all over when we take down the Christmas tree and decorations, but if I’m honest, I prefer things a bit more bare and after all the indulgence, I feel ready to go out and do something even if it’s ordinary.
On the prayer stair we’ve been using our Christmas cards to pray for the people who sent them to us and that’s been a nice way to hang on to a bit of Christmas. The boys really seem to like this. They actually like praying for other people. As we become adults does this become less instinctive and take more effort? Or do we confuse our prayers with too much thought about what we ought to be praying for? A child’s prayer would sound a bit like this: ‘Thank you God for my friend, X. He’s really good at football. Help him to get even better and to have a good time at school. Amen.’ Done.
I think when I start to pray for my friends, my thoughts very quickly turn to all the complications and nuances in the situation almost as if I am the one answering the prayer as I offer it. It seems to me that this kind of praying is tight-fisted and holding-on rather than an open-handed offering. What if I could pray like a 6 year old? ‘Lord, I really like my friend, Kenon. She’s amazing. Please bless her today.’
Admitting that I don’t know the answers doesn’t mean that I am excusing myself of the possibility of being involved in the answer to someone else’s need. But hands are significant here. If I pray with my hands open, I am in a position that shows I am holding my friend before God, waiting for God’s love and wisdom to do more for them than I ever could. At the same time, my hands are open, waiting for whatever part of that work God wants to share with me.