Every week in my parish, there's a theme or core message for Sunday Mass that I also think of as a meditation or an idea to ponder for the week. The phrase this morning was "Pray always", which I take to mean pray through the day and the week and all through your life. Every relationship needs open lines of communication and prayer is a good way to communicate with God to keep that relationship strong, so praying is a good thing.
I got to thinking, what if, instead of 'always' it could be 'all ways'. Pray all ways. Pray with your words, with your heart, with your actions and deeds, with your hands, with your intentions...all ways. Well, that kicks it up a notch, wouldn't you say?
My Mom always used to say "a thought is a prayer". Just thinking of someone is a prayer for their good health and safety; it's a prayer for peace in their life and in their heart. Thinking can be praying.
Actions can be prayers. Hugging a frightened child, caring for someone who's ill, holding the hand of a grieving friend are all prayers for healing and comfort, and they all involve using our hands in active prayer.
Even our very breathing can be praying. When my husband and I were first trying to have a baby, every breath I took seemed to be a prayer for fertility. The second I saw a positive result on the pregnancy test, my breathing instantly became prayers of thanksgiving.
We can even find prayer in the most mundane, unglamorous, tedious everyday chores. Laundering countless pounds of dirty clothes, can be a prayer that my family walks out the door each morning securely wrapped in Mom's love and affection. Planning and preparing meals can be a prayer that my family is always healthy and well-nourished. Washing endless piles of dirty dishes, can be a prayer for a clean slate - that we forgive each other's mistakes and start fresh. Weeding the garden, can be a prayer for clarity - that I see and nurture my children's goodness.
Even writing this blog can be a prayer...that somehow, somewhere along the line, my words can have a positive impact or influence on another person's life.
I think an important part of Praying All Ways is to do it intentionally, and by that I mean, to be aware of the prayer. Be aware of God working with you and through you to bring goodness into another's life. Be aware of the power of the smallest of gestures to lift someone's mood or alter the course of their day for the better. Know that the mundane and tedious actions (prayers) are, in many ways, far more important and powerful than the public, and perhaps glamorous ones.
Yup, "Pray All Ways" is a powerful phrase to ponder, and it's an even more powerful gift to give to the world. So please, join with me and pray all ways.